There are ways to strengthen the Pell Grant Program and make it more targeted and flexible, without undermining the original intent of the program—providing basic access to postsecondary education for qualified, low-income students.
Washington, DC (PRWEB) December 03, 2013
Today at 10:00 am ET Justin Draeger, president and CEO of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA), will testify before the U.S. House of Representatives at the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training’s hearing, "Keeping College Within Reach: Strengthening Pell Grants for Future Generations."
Draeger will answer questions and share testimony outlining the history and original intent of the Pell Grant Program, subsequent significant changes impacting the program since its inception, and considerations for future program reform.
NASFAA will be well-represented at the Subcommittee hearing—in addition to Draeger’s insights, Richard Heath, director of Student Financial Services at Maryland’s Anne Arundel Community College (and recent NASFAA Board member) will also testify.
Draeger explained that today Pell exists in a more diverse environment than in its early days—but is structured in much the same way it was upon inception. Significant recent changes include the growth of nontraditional students; the increase in the number of students taking remedial coursework in college; the evolution of innovative learning models, such as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs); and the growing popularity of vocational education.
"Financial aid administrators believe that there are ways to strengthen the Pell Grant Program and make it more targeted and flexible, without undermining the original intent of the program—providing basic access to postsecondary education for qualified, low-income students," states Draeger in his prepared testimony.
To wit, NASFAA offered the following policy considerations:
1. Provide a "Pell Promise," or early commitment program for the Pell Grant. Pell Promise would notify students as early as the 9th grade about how much Pell funding they qualify to receive upon successful completion of high school. This commitment would encourage college-going behavior early by introducing a level of certainty for low-income students and incentivizing them to start planning, saving, and completing the necessary coursework they need to attend college.
2. Provide Students a "Pell Well" This pot of funds would be available for students to draw from as needed, rather than allotting a certain amount of Pell dollars for each award year. Under this model, students would have continuous access to Pell funds until they attain a degree or exhaust lifetime eligibility.
3. Provide a "Super Pell" to incentivize students to enroll in more credit hours and graduate sooner. Currently, a full-time Pell award is based on enrollment in 12 credits, rather than the 15 needed to graduate in four years’ time. Extra Pell dollars on top of the current full-time Pell award for enrollments greater than 12 credits would encourage quicker completion of academic programs, furthering our nation’s college graduation goals and potentially leading to less lifetime student loan borrowing.
"While we agree the program should be evaluated so that it may better meet the needs of current students, we are hopeful that throughout this next reauthorization, and for years to come, the Pell Grant will remain the cornerstone of the federal student aid programs," Draeger testified.
Other hearing witnesses include:
-- Dr. Jenna Ashley Robinson, director of Outreach, John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy
-- Michael Dannenberg, director of Higher Education and Education Finance Policy, The Education Trust
A live webcast of the hearing will be made available. For additional questions about NASFAA’s testimony, or to schedule an interview, please email news(at)nasfaa(dot)org.
The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) is a nonprofit membership organization that represents nearly 20,000 financial aid professionals at more than 3,000 colleges, universities, and career schools across the country. NASFAA member institutions serve nine out of every ten undergraduates in the U.S. Based in Washington, DC, NASFAA is the only national association with a primary focus on student aid legislation, regulatory analysis, and training for financial aid administrators. For more information, visit http://www.nasfaa.org.