National Defense Education Act Targets Math, Science, Foreign Language

1958

During the Cold War and after the Soviet Union launches the spacecraft Sputnik, policymakers fear that American students are falling behind in math and science. In response, Congress authorizes the National Defense Education Act, which provides federal aid to state and local school districts to improve the teaching of math, science and foreign languages.

The act also creates the first federal loans to students who want to pursue higher education and launches the College Work-Study Program. The program provides federal assistance to colleges and universities to create jobs that enable students to earn money for tuition and living expenses.