- A decision by Congress to restore year-round federal Pell Grants is apparently boosting enrollment during the summer for some colleges, according to Inside Higher Education.
- In Louisiana, for example, two-year institutions have seen a 10% rise in enrollment this summer as compared with last summer, and a president of one institution there says that can be attributed to Congress restoring Pell Grant aid last year.,Other campuses in the state saw even larger increases, with credit-hour enrollment up 42% to 45% over summer 2017.
- The change apparently has boosted summer enrollment at colleges in Alabama, also, where one institution reported a 58% increase in its summer Pell Grant recipients. Meanwhile, Valencia College in Orlando reported offering Pell Grants to 9,074 summer school students as compared with 6,414 last year.
Congress restored year-round Pell Grants in a budget deal last year after eliminating them in 2011, requiring that students attending summer classes just use aid left over from the rest of the year. Experts have said attending in the summer allows these students to finish more quickly, because many Pell Grant recipients, due to other obligations, often take 12 credits or less in each semester.
The bump in attendance for summer classes also may counteract declining enrollment at community colleges. An Inside Higher Ed survey of two-year college presidents shows enrollment issues were a major concern for them, with 57% reporting that enrollments at their institutions were down over the past three years.
Despite the improvement in availability, four-year institutions are not meeting the needs of their Pell Grant students, according to one report, which showed that after six years, only around 49% of full-time, first-time students receiving Pell Grants earned a bachelor's degree from the college where they initially enrolled. About 80% of four-year institutions graduate Pell students at a lower rate than their other learners, the study showed. This fall the Department of Education will release data for part-time and transfer Pell students.
A report from the Brookings Institution suggested that measuring an institution's level of low-income students by using Pell Grant data is inaccurate because only 69% of low-income students receive the funding, and only 65% of grant recipients were low income, while 34% were middle income or above.
Ohio State University plans to spend some $3 million a year starting in spring 2019 to close the aid gap for low- and moderate-income students at its regional campuses after providing more assistance to in-state students on the main Columbus campus who qualify for Pell Grants. It said it will help pay for tuition and mandatory fees that remain after federal and state aid is applied. Ohio State expects the Buckeye Opportunity Program to help some 3,000 main-campus students who receive Pell awards, according to the Associated Press.