Billions Spent on Low Income College Students — But Half of Them Don’t Even Graduate!by GDN Shared Post October 17, 2017
Low-income students have a more difficult time getting through college than other students due to cost. One would assume that by offering financial assistance such as the Pell grant, that more low-income students would graduate. But recent statistics show that, although the federal government has spent roughly $400 billion on the Pell Grant program since 2000, only about half of these students are actually graduating.
What exactly is the Pell Grant?
Pell Grants represent financial assistance for low-income students from families earning less than $30,000. The Pell Grant program has even increased it’s maximum grant to $5,920. However, the Education Department has released data showing that the money isn’t always an incentive to graduate.
Just under half of students at four-year colleges who received Pell Grants earned a bachelor’s degree within six years, according to a recent study by the National Center For Educational Statistics (NCES). The data for students who did not receive a Pell Grant shows that 67 percent of these students did go on to earn their degree.
So, what’s the problem?
The problem is multi-faceted. Research showed that one reason may be that low-income students receiving Pell grants tend to choose colleges that have lower graduation rates to begin with. Another reason may be that the data is not complete and, therefore, does not depict an entirely accurate picture.
For example, the data only includes information of full-time students entering college for the first time. It leaves out data on part-time students and students who are going back to college for a second time. It also does not count students attending community colleges.
So, this creates a controversial dilemma. Should the federal government continue to spend $30 billion a year on grants for education for low-income students?
It appears that more research and data is necessary before making any decisions about a program that is resulting in sending more low-income students to college. But some are saying that the obvious answer is to halt the program.
For more details about the study, visit https://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2017150