Wicker & Kaine Announce Bipartisan Push to Enhance Cybersecurity Scholarships

March 29, 2017

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Co-Chair of the Community Colleges Caucus and Tim Kaine, D-Va., Co-Chair of the Career and Technical Education Caucus, both members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, announced legislation to further improve the cybersecurity workforce pipeline by expanding and enhancing an existing federal scholarship program for students pursuing degrees in cybersecurity fields. The Cyber Scholarship Opportunities Act would expand and improve the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) CyberCorps: Scholarship-for-Service program, which provides ROTC-style scholarships to students pursuing degrees in cybersecurity, helps colleges and universities develop cybersecurity programs, and sponsors cyber boot camps for K-12 students to increase cyber literacy among America’s youth.

“Over the last several months of committee hearings and travel across Virginia, I’ve heard national security experts repeatedly call for expanding the cybersecurity workforce pipeline. Just today, a report from MIT emphasized the urgent need for skilled cyber professionals to protect critical infrastructure in the U.S.,” said Kaine. “Extending CyberCorps scholarships to community college students will expand the federal cybersecurity workforce and strengthen national security. These are good-paying jobs, and we should help a greater number of Virginia students find this path to success.”

“Cybersecurity threats are rapidly increasing and impact nearly every industry,” said Wicker. “CyberCorps Scholarship-for-Service, as well as other DOD and NSA programs, provides resources to train the next generation in our fight against cyber-attacks. Mississippi State University has been a leader in this endeavor, utilizing the CyberCorps program for the past decade. This legislation would continue that support while expanding access to community college and K-12 students across Mississippi. It is critical that the federal government and private industry be prepared to prevent future attacks. This bill is a way to help meet a growing demand in the cybersecurity workforce.”

“There is a nationwide shortage of highly-qualified cybersecurity specialists, with our federal government falling behind in the race for these experts. The Cyber Scholarship Opportunities Act of 2017 is a meaningful step toward strengthening the government’s cybersecurity workforce. This legislation will expand the National Science Foundation’s Scholarship-For-Service program to make it easier for aspiring cyber warriors to join government and offer new opportunities for experts in the cybersecurity field to contribute to the defense of federal networks and infrastructure,” said Max Stier, president and CEO of the Partnership for Public Service. “I commend Senators Kaine and Wicker for their commitment to growing the nation’s pipeline of cyber talent and making investments to help close the government’s cybersecurity workforce gap.”

The Cyber Scholarship Opportunities Act would:

  • Expand scholarship availability to community college students. This bill would require NSF to provide 5 percent of 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 enhance protection for critical infrastructure by allowing scholarship recipients, on a case-by-case basis, to fulfill their service requirement at a government-affiliated entity considered to be part of a critical infrastructure sector, such as a public power utility or a state-regulated dam. 
  • 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 the K-12 element of CyberCorps to encourage the continuation of this successful program or similar efforts to promote K-12 cyber education.

Earlier this month, Senator Kaine introduced the DoD Cyber Scholarship Program Act of 2017, which would reinvigorate and modify an existing DoD scholarship program for students pursuing degrees in cybersecurity fields. The DoD Cyber Act creates a jobs pipeline from Centers of Academic Excellence (CAE) to the Department of Defense.

For more information on the Cyber Scholarship Opportunities Act click here.