Education is one of the clearest pathways out of poverty. Nebraska Appleseed has been repeating this statement nearly since our inception, and our work has paid off:Â Nebraska welfare recipients are able to pursue a Bachelorâ€™s Degree full time, and recently, our state expanded the time frame that recipients can pursue an Associateâ€™s Degree from 12 months to 36 months. Â Not every state promotes education in this way â€“ in fact, Nebraska is a model state for higher education access in welfare programs, in part because of Nebraska Appleseedâ€™s long-time commitment to this issue.
Now, the attention of the U.S. Congress is turning to reauthorization of the federal legislation overseeing welfare programs (called Temporary Assistance to Needy Families on the federal level.) Â And now, Nebraska can proudly point to the strong strategies that our state is using to help low-income families move into self-sufficiency through education as a model for the nation.Â This week, we will submit comments to the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee making two clear points:
- Education works for Nebraska families â€“ letâ€™s make it work for welfare recipients nationwide.
- There is more work to be done: Itâ€™s time to change the rules to give families more flexibility to pursue education, whether itâ€™s a GED, English as a Second Language, or a Bachelorâ€™s Degree.
Fundamentally, we believe that our nationâ€™s welfare program should help families through difficult times, while also providing an opportunity for them to build their skills to become self-sufficient in the long term. And we know that education is the best way to do that:Â In Nebraska, individuals who attain an Associateâ€™s Degree earn an average of over $7,500 more than those without a high school diploma. Multiple studies show that those who attain higher levels of education are likely to end their dependency on welfare and other public benefits programs for good.
Join us to share Nebraskaâ€™s vision with the nation!
Read the letter and consider adding your organizationâ€™s name before April 21
See the Ways and Means Committee announcement about the upcoming welfare and education hearing