Sens. Tim Kaine, D-Va., and Mike Rounds, R-S.D., introduced a bill on Thursday that would authorize the Department of Defense scholarship fund to receive $10 million for fiscal year 2018 and would enable it to expand scholarships for associate degrees in cybersecurity.
“A well-trained and highly skilled cyber workforce is essential to addressing the United States’ growing cybersecurity challenges,” Kaine said. “There are good-paying jobs in Virginia and across the country in the cyber field that are going unfilled, and it’s clear we must make it easier for students to access the programs that prepare them for these roles. Expanding scholarship funds so they’re available to community college students is a common-sense change that will help put more of Virginia’s students on a path to success and support our national security needs.”
The bill, titled the DoD Cyber Scholarship Program Act of 2017, would require that at least 5 percent of scholarship funds go to students participating in NSA and DHS Centers of Academic Excellence-designated two-year programs. Those receiving the scholarships would be required to work in a cybersecurity position at DoD after graduation.
“As our reliance on technology in everyday life continues to grow, so does our threat of cyberattacks which could significantly disrupt our economy and weaken our national security,” Rounds said. “This expanding threat underscores the need to recruit and train cybersecurity professionals. In particular, our national shortage of these experts impacts the Defense Department’s ability to accomplish its cyber missions. Our legislation strengthens a proven cybersecurity scholarship program that has amply benefited students in South Dakota and nationwide as they embarked on cybersecurity careers in support of our national security.”
The bill would also establish grants for eligible schools to develop cybersecurity programs.
“Cybersecurity is increasingly essential, and community colleges play a critical role in training the professionals the industry desperately needs,” said Virginia community college system chancellor Glenn DuBois.
Northern Virginia Community College President Scott Ralls added that community colleges can often be home to thousands of veteran students, and that this bill would both provide for student success and attract the expert faculty necessary to train a robust cyber workforce.