WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) applauded the Senate Commerce Committee’s unanimous approval yesterday of his bill with Senator Roger Wicker, the Cyber Scholarship Opportunities Act, to help students access education programs that prepare them for careers in cybersecurity. The legislation will enhance the cybersecurity workforce pipeline by improving and expanding the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) CyberCorps: Scholarship-for-Service Program, which awards grants and scholarships to students in exchange for government service in cybersecurity roles. The bill’s key provisions would expand scholarships to community colleges, increase resources for K-12 cyber education, improve cyber teacher recruitment, and boost much-needed support for critical infrastructure at risk of cyberattacks.
The Cyber Scholarship Opportunities Act was passed with unanimous approval out of the Commerce Committee. It will next be considered by the full Senate. In the House of Representatives, Congressman Michael McCaul (R-TX) has introduced a bipartisan counterpart to the Cyber Scholarship Opportunities Act.
“Over and over again, we have heard that more cybersecurity professionals are needed to defend the nation’s economic and national security,” said Kaine. “By building upon the successful Scholarship-for-Service program, our legislation proposes smart ways to help prepare students for good-paying, important jobs in cybersecurity and supporting the federal workforce’s national security missions. The bill expands scholarships to community colleges, which are well-equipped to prepare students interested in cyber careers at a lower cost and in less time than traditional, four-year degree programs. The bill also expands the program’s reach to teaching cybersecurity to K-12 students, recruiting teachers, and protecting critical infrastructure – all challenges that are exacerbated by the nation’s skills gap. I was proud to work with Senator Wicker and the Commerce Committee in a truly bipartisan way to take this bill one step closer to passage.”
As modified, the Cyber Scholarship Opportunities Act would:
- Expand scholarship availability to community college students. This bill would require NSF to provide scholarships to career changers and military veterans in 2-year degree programs. The bill would also make part-time students eligible for participation.
- Supports Critical Infrastructure protection. There is a critical shortage of professionals working to protect critical infrastructure from cyber threats. This bill would allow scholarship recipients to fulfill their service requirement at a government-affiliated entity considered to be part of a critical infrastructure sector, such as a public power utilities or airport authorities like the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.
- Codifies CyberCorps’ K-12 education program. Since 2014, CyberCorps has funded a pilot program to engage students at the K-12 level in cybersecurity education. This bill would codify CyberCorps’ grant awards for K-12 education to ensure the continuation of this successful program or similar efforts.
In addition to serving on the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Kaine co-chairs the Senate Career and Technical Education (CTE) Caucus and has become a leader in the Senate on policies to prepare students for careers in cybersecurity. In June, key provisions of Kaine’s DoD Cyber Scholarship Program Act of 2017, which would reinvigorate and modify an existing DoD scholarship program for students pursuing degrees in cybersecurity fields, were included in the committee-passed Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act. The DoD Cyber Scholarship Act creates a jobs pipeline from Centers of Academic Excellence (CAE) to the Department of Defense.