Pell Grant spending declines

After nearly tripling in five years, federal spending for Pell Grants declined in the last fiscal year. The college aid program for low- and moderate-income students is 40 years old.

Harkin bill: No aid for ‘worthless’ degrees

Sen. Tom Harkin’s Protecting Students from Worthless Degrees Act, introduced last week, would cut off federal college aid to unaccredited programs at for-profit colleges that don’t qualify graduates to take licensing exams for jobs in their fields of study.

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?

Employers see higher ed as costly, stodgy

The nation’s higher education system is costly, unaccountable and unwilling to change, say business leaders interviewed for a Public Agenda report.

For-profit colleges whose students are eligible for federal aid charge 75 percent more than for-profits that don’t participate in aid programs, a new study finds. That confirms a theory that increasing student aid leads to increases in tuition.

Repayment study left out blacks

A U.S. Education Department analysis on the relationship between race and repayment of student loans left out black students, skewing results used to justify the gainful employment rule imposed on for-profit colleges.

Should Pell Grants be targeted at low-income students — or expanded to middle-class families? 

Pell must reform to avoid cuts

Now costing $41 billion, Pell Grants must prove their effectiveness or lose funding, financial aid experts say.

Thirty-seven million Americans have some college credits, but no degree. Online courses are helping some to complete a credential.

If aid were tied to graduation rates …

Linking federal student aid to college graduation rates or other success measures could shake up higher education. Open-access colleges and universities enroll many low-income students who qualify for Pell Grants. Graduation rates are low.

Federal civil rights investigators are expanding their scope, including an investigation of whether low graduation rates at a community college violates students’ rights.

Obama guards Pell spending in debt deal

President Obama protected Pell Grants from funding cuts in the debt-ceiling deal. As a “crucial investment,” Pell was given “specific protection in the discretionary budget,” a White House press release stresses.

President Obama wants to be the Pell Grant President, writes Mickey Kaus. “The phrase ‘President’s Historic Investment in Pell Grants’ is repeated twice, verbatim, for the proper Great Leap Forward effect.”

Grants will stay at the same level for a few years, but everyone thinks the rapidly growing program — spending has doubled in three years — will need to be redesigned.

Pell Grants may be safe — for 2 years

Pell Grants may be safe — for two years, but the student-aid program will have to be rethought. Costs have grown by 182 percent in five years.

Pell Grants at risk in debt deal

Pell Grants for low-income college students are on the chopping block in the debt-ceiling negotiations.

Also on Community College Spotlight: Community college students perform worse in online courses than in traditional classes.