Blog

07/2014

Where in the Pell Are They? U.Va. Can Be Selective Without Being Exclusive

High-achieving students from low-income backgrounds aren’t fictitious characters from the Game of Thrones HBO series; they exist — and in much larger numbers than many elite institutions would have you believe. Too many of these institutions rely on their selective admissions requirements to explain why so few low-income students enroll in their college.

In fact, at a symposium we co-hosted this month in Charlottesville, Va., a senior administrator at the University of Virginia used this excuse while attempting to explain why Pell Grant recipients make up only 12 percent of undergraduates, even though about 42 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds without a college degree in the Commonwealth are from low-income or working-class family backgrounds.

Continue to Put Pressure on the Department of Education for a Strong Gainful Rule

With the public comment period for the proposed “gainful employment” regulations long closed, we have time to look back at what we’ve accomplished and see what work is still to be done.

With the help of borrowers, students, parents, and advocates from around the country, tens of thousands of comments were submitted to the U.S. Department of Education urging them to issue a stronger final “gainful employment” rule.

Burned by a Career-Ed Program: Real and Raw Student Stories

The U.S. Department of Education plans to release its final "gainful employment" rule in October 2014. The draft rule, circulated by the department earlier this year, proposed cutting off access to federal financial aid for career-education programs (many of which are at for-profit colleges) whose graduates have high student loan default rates or high levels of student loan debt relative to their incomes. It is essential that the department adopt a final rule with strong protections for students.

During the month of May we asked students to submit their stories as public comments on the department’s draft “gainful employment” rule. Many of the student victims who have been exploited and defrauded by career-education programs offered compelling evidence of the need for stronger protections. Here’s what some of them had to say:

Low-Income Students Deserve a Real ‘CHANCE’ at Affordable College

Each year millions of Americans depend on Pell Grants to help make college affordable. Research has shown that need-based grant aid, like Pell Grants, increases college enrollment among low- and moderate-income students. But with college costs skyrocketing over the last three decades, Pell Grants have lost much of their purchasing power. In the 1980s, Pell Grants covered 77 percent of the cost of college at a four-year public college for low-income students. Today that share has dropped significantly to only 31 percent of the cost.