How to reform Pell Grants

Once a sacred cow, Pell Grants’ growing cost — $36 billion and rising — have made changes inevitable. Can Pell be reformed to focus on the neediest students? Should it provide incentives to colleges that graduate their Pell students?

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  1. The only meaningful way to reform Pell Grants, in the sense of increasing the number of grads in fields leading to college-grad-level jobs, is to tie them to SAT/ACT scores correlating to likely success in real college-level classes and perhaps to certain majors. It’s non-PC to mention this, but the neediest students are disproportionately less likely to meet this standard. Ignoring this fact merely increases the number of unprepared kids in college, who are most likely to gravitate to majors unlikely to lead to such jobs, if they graduate at all.

  2. P.S. No incentives for schools that graduate their Pell students; it will inevitably lead to (more) grade inflation and worthless majors (for getting good jobs). We already have too much of that problem in k-12; a HS diploma no longer means appropriate knowledge and skills, which is certainly related for the current demand for college degrees for work that HS grads should be able to do.