The Benefits of Pell Grants for Short-Term Programs

"Allowing postsecondary students to use federal Pell grants for short-term certificate programs would be a win-win for colleges, students and employers, according to college advocates," according to Community College Daily.

"Current law limits Pell grants to programs of at least 16 credit hours or 600 clock hours. However, the House is considering as part of its reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA) to extend those grants to certificate programs of shorter duration. The Senate has yet to introduce its HEA bill, but lawmakers on its education committee seem to also support the idea.

In 2014-15, 24 percent of all credentials awarded by community colleges were certificates of less than one year, according to the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC).

AACC has recommended providing colleges with Pell funds equal to 2 percent of their previous year’s Pell grant expenditures for students in financially need who enroll in short-term programs that lead to good jobs. At current funding levels, that would add less than $600 million annually to the cost of the program.

....Financial aid for high-quality certificate programs that meet industry standards 'will open the door to a lot of people and help fill the skills gap for employees,' said Mark Mitsui, president of Portland Community College (PCC) in Oregon. 'That would help students in our career pathways earn a series of stackable, short-term certificates, giving them access to living-wage jobs and careers.'

Those programs have a 94 percent completion rate, Mitsui said, and 72 percent of students who complete a certificate continue their education. Incorporating wraparound supports into those programs is 'a pretty potent formula for success,' he said.

Career pathways are designed to accommodate 'the busy lives of our students,' most of whom are adults, Mitsui noted. More than half are low income or people or color.

....Allowing Pell grants for short-term programs 'would help us tremendously with increasing access,' Merrill Irving Jr., president of Hennepin Technical College in Minnesota, emphasized. With it, Hennepin could attract students who have never considered enrolling in career and technical education, he said."

NASFAA's "Headlines" section highlights media coverage of financial aid to help members stay up to date with the latest news. Inclusion in Today's News does not imply endorsement of the material or guarantee the accuracy of information presented.


Publication Date: 3/13/2018

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