The Middle College National Consortium Applauds the Announcement of a Dual Enrollment Experimental Site for Federal Pell Grants

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At a time when postsecondary education is critical to the economy, but only 9 percent of those born in the lowest family income quartile attain a bachelor’s degree by age 25 (compared to 54 percent in the top quartile), the proposed experiment can help explore how Pell grants—the most important source of federal financial aid for low-income students aspiring to a college education—might best provide more low-income students access to early college and other dual enrollment pathways.

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Dr. Cecilia L. Cunningham, Director-Middle College National Consortium

With the high cost of college, and its disparate impact on the poor, it is vital that experimental programs such as the one being conducted by the federal government with Pell grants move forward.

The Middle College National Consortium (MCNC) applauds President Obama’s recent announcement of a dual enrollment experimental site for federal Pell grants. Across the country, 1.4 million students participate in dual enrollment, which enables high school students to enroll in college courses. However, Pell grants—the most important source of federal financial aid for low-income students aspiring to a college education—are not available to students who are still in high school. This experiment will help identify new approaches to enrolling more low-income students in early college and other dual enrollment programs. Dual enrollment and early college models have been proven to significantly increase low-income students’ chances of college success, providing an effective pathway to college completion.

At a time when postsecondary education is critical to the economy, but only 9 percent of those born in the lowest family income quartile attain a bachelor’s degree by age 25 (compared to 54 percent in the top quartile), we need to dramatically increase the numbers of low income students gaining early exposure to college through dual enrollment.

“The surest path out of poverty and into the middle class is through a college education,” said Dr. Cecilia L. Cunningham, founder and Director of MCNC. “With the high cost of college, and its disparate impact on the poor, it is vital that experimental programs such as the one being conducted by the federal government with Pell grants move forward. This variation of the Pell grant will allow students to accumulate college credits while in high school and significantly reduce the cost of attending college.”

The Middle College National Consortium and partner organizations are working to expand early college high schools and dual and concurrent enrollment options for students, including Jobs for the Future, Bard College, EDWorks, KnowledgeWorks, the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships, and the Ohio Early College Association. These partners have worked closely with over 10,400 dual and concurrent enrollment programs, early college high schools, and their postsecondary partners across the country, with many more currently in development across the nation.

“We and our partners strongly believe that the proposed experimental site has the potential to bring to bear smart and effective uses of Pell for dual enrollment that will result in persistence through college and credential completion for low-income students. We stand ready to work collaboratively with the Administration to ensure an effective and informative dual enrollment experimental site,” said Joel Vargas, Vice President at Jobs for the Future, a nonprofit working to improve the pathways leading from high school to college to family-supporting careers.

The Middle College National Consortium, headquartered in New York City, is a leader in the movement to establish and sustain dual enrollment in high school and college as a viable and necessary educational model. Its mission is to develop small schools in which high school students, especially those who have been previously underserved by their former schools, can earn both a high school diploma and either an Associate’s degree or transferable college credits upon graduation.

To learn more about the Middle College National Consortium, visit us at (http://www.mcnc.us/) for a comprehensive overview of the history, design principles, current work and achievements.

Contact information:
Tony Hoffmann
Middle College National Consortium
http://www.mcnc.us
718-361-1981
thoffmann(at)mcnc(dot)us

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