Archive for November, 2012

November 30, 2012

Political outlook for the Pell Grant and other federal college aid

by Grace

Next year the Pell Grant program will face a $5.7 billion shortfall and interest rates on federally subsidized students loans are scheduled to double to 6.8%.  Given the pressure to curtail overall government spending, it’s prudent to expect changes in federal college aid programs.

Sequestration  - The Pell Grant is protected from first-year cuts, but all federal student loan programs would be cut by 8.2% if no agreement is reached to avert the fiscal cliff.

Student loans  –  Several options have been discussed, including doing away with the subsidy but lowering interest rates by tying them to U.S. Treasuries.  For the purpose of targeting lower-income students, it has been argued that the recently enhanced income-based repayment program does a more effective job than loan subsidies.

Pell Grant  –  A push to overhaul Pell grants has come from various directions, with a common perspective that they need to become more efficient and effective.  Some ideas are to use the grants as an incentive for higher college completion rates and increased state aid for low-income students.

A fuller discussion of the issues can be found at What’s Next for the Pell Grant? (Inside Higher Ed).

———————————————————–

Does the government make a profit from student loans?

From What’s Next for the Pell Grant? (Inside Higher Ed), this caught my attention:

Even subsidized loans are a moneymaker for the federal government under the current accounting system, notes Sarah Flanagan, vice president for government relations and policy at the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities.

But this is contested by a spokesperson for the Democrat-controlled Senate Committee on Health, Education, Pensions and Labor in a PolitiFact piece:

Subsidized loans do not make money for the government, Sessions said. They actually cost the federal government money.

An explanation of how student loans are a money-maker from This Can’t Be Happening:

Inflation, according to the government’s own statistics, is running at 2.7%. In other words, the government, which is the lender in the case of Stafford Loans, is already making 0.7% on its “subsidized” loans to undergraduates. And the inflation rate has been considerably lower in prior years, so the government has actually been making out like a bandit longer term. If it were to start earning 6.8% on these loans, like it’s already making on older loans, unsubsudized Stafford loans and Perkins Loans, the Treasury would be raking in huge profits on a loan program which is supposed to be helping make college affordable for lower income and middle-income students.

And this from the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

Now, the possibility that the federal government actually makes money on student loans may sound wildly improbable. Over the last several months we’ve heard repeatedly that keeping interest rates at the current level of 3.4 percent will “cost” the federal government $6 billion. Republicans want to pay for the reduced interest rates by trimming spending from health programs. Democrats want to go after tax breaks for businesses.

But the truth is that taxpayers do quite well by the student loan business. If you think about it just a little, it’s not hard to figure out why: The U.S. government pays almost nothing to borrow money that it lends out to college students at much higher interest rates. The current interest rate on a subsidized Stafford loan is 3.4 percent; on an unsubsidized Stafford loan the interest rate is 6.8 percent.

November 29, 2012

‘Sending the wrong students to college’

by Grace

In lamenting the poor writing skills of his students, Rutgers University Professor Jackson Toby declares that remediation in college is usually too late to help poorly prepared students succeed.  He argues that we are “sending the wrong students to college” and that literacy problems should have been addressed starting back in elementary school.

What college professors have to deal with

… Perhaps a third of the students averaged five to ten errors per page. They had computers equipped with spell-check, but that function couldn’t prevent wrong word usage. Many couldn’t keep straight when to use “there,” rather than “their” or “they’re,” “threw” instead of “through,” “sight” instead of “site,” “aloud” instead of “allowed,” “Ivy” instead of IV (intravenous), and “stranglers” instead of “stragglers.”

Parents have to instill the importance of education from an early age.

Contrary to the mantra that everyone should go to college and that the main obstacle is inadequate financial support from governments, students have to be fairly well prepared for higher education by the time they arrive on the college campus.  Such preparation must begin much earlier in students’ lives, including convincing them that education has to be taken seriously if they aspire to interesting, well-paid jobs.  Parents are more effective than teachers at instilling this message.  Unfortunately, not all parents have their children’s education at the top of their agendas, especially parents with meager educations or serious personal problems.  Poverty alone does not prevent parents from promoting high educational aspirations in their children.

Toby goes on to say that “even parents deeply concerned about their children’s education must find programs in which their children can learn the skills they will need”.  With this I profoundly agree, having seen problems with ineffective curricula and teaching even in affluent suburban public schools.  In the case of parents who can afford it, private tutoring may be the only way their children can learn the right skills.

A pragmatic approach

… Whatever the reasons for inadequate preparation, it is usually too late for remediation in college.  Late-bloomers are mostly a myth.  That being so, it is cruel to tempt all high school graduates to take out large loans to pay for college educations; for underprepared students, loans can be traps.  For underprepared students compelled to default on loans they cannot repay, such loans in the one-trillion dollar portfolio of student loans are a disaster.  The loans are an obstacle to becoming adults, to marrying, buying a home, and raising a family.

It’s better to emphasize vocational training and job preparation at community colleges rather than Pell grants and low-cost student loans.  It isn’t a quick fix, but it’s more realistic.

Of course, Pell grants and subsidized loans are also available for vocational training.  With limited exceptions, government financial aid should be limited to students who are adequately prepared to be successful in college.  If that were the case, there would be different standards for vocational training and for four-year colleges.

Related:  We spend $40 billion yearly on Pell Grants, but we have no idea about results (Cost of College)

November 28, 2012

Quick Links – new Tulane scholarship; public pension costs rose 5,000% over ten years; principals are primary reason why teachers quit; and more

by Grace

»»»  New full-tuition scholarship at Tulane University

The new Paul Tulane Award will be awarded to 50 students, an addition to the previously existing Dean’s Honor Scholarships that go to approximately 75 students.  The introduction of this new scholarship means that about 8% of incoming Tulane students receive full-tuition aid each year.  This is in addition to their other awards, including the Community Service Scholarships that range from $5,000 to $15,000.

This year’s deadline for the Paul Tulane Award has already passed, but interested students should make a note for future years.


»»»  Out of control and unsustainable – Pension costs rose over 400% during same period that the number of employees declined 25% in one New York town.

The town of Eastchester is located in Westchester County.

Supervisor Anthony S. Colavita said the town has to tighten its belt to pay increasing pension contributions amid declining tax collections thanks to reduced assessments.

The count of full-time employees stands at 153, down 25 percent from the 203 employed when Colavita took office in 2004….

Colavita had tough words for the rising cost of pension contributions, which rose from $571,455 in the year he took office to $3.1 million in next year’s proposed budget. Costs rose from $2.6 million in this year’s budget, a 21 percent increase.

“If we only had to pay half of that, we would likely not have a tax increase,” Colavita said.

A decade ago, Eastchester paid just $63,223 in pension costs.

The increase in cost over the past decade has been almost 5,000%.  This problem is widespread, also affecting the nearby village of Bronxville as explained by Mayor Mary C. Martin.

To put in real numbers, the Village’s pension obligation alone has risen from $17,103 in 2001 to $1,057,015 in 2012, or an approximately 6,000% increase in just a decade.

In essence, our obligations to the State are escalating at an unsustainable pace, so alternative revenue sources must be found or fundamental services and personnel will have to be cut.


»»»  Principals are most important factor in teachers leaving the profession  

To find out what factors influence novice teachers’ decisions to leave the teaching profession, Peter Youngs, associate professor of educational policy at Michigan State University and Ben Pogodzinski of Wayne State University, working with two other colleagues at Michigan State, surveyed 184 beginning teachers of grades one through eight in eleven large school districts in Michigan and Indiana. Their study was recently published in Elementary School Journal.

The researchers found that the most important factor influencing commitment was the beginning teacher’s perception of how well the school principal worked with the teaching staff as a whole. This was a stronger factor than the adequacy of resources, the extent of a teacher’s administrative duties, the manageability of his or her workload, or the frequency of professional-development opportunities.
Why Do So Many Teachers Quit Their Jobs? Because They Hate Their Bosses ( The Atlantic)

 

»»»  Indiana’s school voucher program is being challenged in court on grounds that it benefits religious institutions.

Indiana Supreme Court justices heard arguments last week over the state’s school voucher program, also known as Choice Scholarships Program.

At stake: Whether it’s legal for the state to use public funds to help parents pay for sending their children to private schools — an overwhelming majority of which are religious affiliated.

The state contends tax money is not being used to fund religious institutions, that parents receiving the vouchers are free to send their children to any school. Opponents argue public schools are losing not only students, but the cash the state would spend on their schooling — it’s illegal because religious schools are the ones benefiting, a clear violation of separation of church and state and contrary to the Indiana Constitution.

It is the nation’s largest school voucher program, having grown to more than 9,000 students during its second year of operation.

If the state voucher program is found unconstitutional, what about college scholarship programs that “benefit” religious institutions.

In considering the law, “The problem for me is `the benefit of,”‘ said Indiana Chief Justice Brent Dickson, referring the wording of the state constitution, which precludes spending state funds for the benefit of religious institutions. Dickson and other justices repeatedly probed the nuances of that phrase’s meaning — including whether it applied to other government services or to state scholarships that help students attend church-affiliated universities like Notre Dame.

It’s probably too early to tell how the voucher school students are performing compared to public school students.

November 27, 2012

For a journalism job, consider majoring in economics or math

by Grace

Nate Sliver, reigning king of political prognosticators after accurately applying his skills in statistics and mathematics to this month’s presidential election, offers his opinion on the future of journalism.

Why has the data-driven approach to predictions received so much attention recently, and what role have you and your team played in that?
I think people like those types of stories because—Moneyball is a part of it, right? And I think we have so much information now, we have so much data. We need better practices, strategies, techniques, to make better use of it. I think people are hungry for it. I think people do—appropriately—not trust the messenger so much. They don’t necessarily trust the reporter or the pundit to relay all the facts to them when they have so much information at their disposal, for free, basically. So it plays into that curiosity for what we do with all that information.

What does the growing popularity of this approach mean for the future of journalism and punditry in particular?
I think punditry serves no purpose. I don’t care if it has a future. For journalism though, there are two ways to do it. You can go and take your traditional journalist—and many of them are fantastically good reporters, very good writers, certainly The New York Times—and try to train them more in some math and probability and statistics. Or you can hire people who come from that background, where maybe now some papers are going to hire economics majors and math majors, fields that you wouldn’t typically enter if you want to go into journalism. But I would think—I guess I would predict—you’ll see more data-driven analysts or reporters. I think at some places, there are questions about where do these journalists fit in and what do you call them? Because the term reporter is now in context, but what is it, right? The New York Times, by hiring me, took a step to do that. The Washington Post has done that with Ezra Klein, but the Times, some of the best journalists are those who make their interactive graphics. And they really do consider themselves journalists, in terms of, “We’re trying to present complex information in a way that helps elucidate the truth to people.”

Since journalists are expected to apply a critical eye to the stories they write, it would make sense for them to know probability and statistics along with having other analytical abilities.  I’m not sure that all journalism schools focus very much attention on teaching these skills.

Interactive graphics do seem like the big thing in journalism.  Don’t most of us like playing with the data accompanying a story?

From Nate’s lips to God’s ears
My son is an aspiring journalist who is majoring in economics, so I hope Silver is correct in his view that data-driven reporting is on the rise.

Related:

November 26, 2012

The fiscal cliff – higher taxes may not be so bad if you’re seeking college financial aid

by Grace

Politicians may be close to a deal that will avoid the dreaded fiscal cliff, thereby averting a $450 billion tax increase that would affect most American households.  However, if we find ourselves tumbling over the edge of that cliff on January 1, there is at least one possible silver lining for parents of college students.

Higher Taxes Can Increase Your Child’s College Aid Eligibility

Paying higher taxes can actually increase your child’s eligibility for need-based college financial aid. The reason is that in the formulas used to determine a student’s need for financial aid, federal, state and FICA taxes that parents and students pay get subtracted from their respective incomes. The more taxes you pay, the less income the formulas determine you’ll have available after taxes to contribute toward the cost of college. Depending on the cost of the colleges your child is considering, the child’s aid eligibility may go up because the child’s expected contribution will go down as the result of you paying more in taxes.

The Fiscal Cliff and Need-Based Aid Eligibility

Colleges determine your child’s eligibility for need-based aid by subtracting the amount you are expected to contribute toward the cost of attendance (cost of attendance – expected family contribution = need). The more taxes you pay, the lower your child’s expected family contribution (EFC). At colleges where the overall cost of attendance is higher than your child’s EFC, the child will qualify for need-based aid. If you end up paying more in taxes if we go over the so-called “Fiscal Cliff” when the Bush-era tax cuts expire this December 31st, then your child’s EFC will go down and aid eligibility at the colleges where your child qualifies for need-based aid will go up.

A simple rule of thumb is that your child’s EFC will drop by about 47% of every dollar you pay in additional taxes on the same amount of income.

Higher taxes may not be so bad if you’re seeking college financial aid, but they can be tough on  long-run economic growth.

Related:  How Would the Fiscal Cliff Affect Typical Families in Each State? (Tax Foundation)

November 23, 2012

School bus drivers collect unemployment benefits during summer break

by Grace

Bus drivers, cafeteria workers, and other public school seasonal workers in most states can collect unemployment benefits during the summer and other breaks in the year.  Although filtered through their employers and the state government, ultimately it is the taxpayers who pay for these benefits.  This extra compensation received during their summer break is not included the employees’ salaries as reported in school budgets and elsewhere.

Fair treatment or scam on taxpayers?
My first reaction upon hearing about this was surprise, followed by a realization that this was one of those fairness issues that often divides people on opposite ends of the political spectrum.  Rent control is another example of this, where I simply shake my head at how ridiculous it seems and others accept it as the fair way to treat tenants.

With many states struggling over budget issues, this issue is in the spotlight.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Should seasonal workers be allowed to collect unemployment checks in their downtime?

A growing number of states are saying no.

From school bus drivers to ballet dancers to lifeguards, many workers whose jobs only last for a portion of the year have traditionally been eligible for jobless benefits. But now states across the country are starting to crack down, trying to save money and rescue insolvent jobless funds.

Federal law gives each state the option to decide whether or not to allow seasonal workers to take benefits. Now strapped for funds, many states are stripping some workers of their eligibility.

For example, earlier this year, New Jersey Republicans introduced a bill that would require the state to identify specific seasonal industries that operate about 9 months of the year or less, and deny those workers unemployment benefits in the off-season.

Uh oh.  I know a school bus driver in New Jersey who looks forward to her unemployment checks every summer.  She may be affected by this.

Common sense

“Individuals who work in a truly seasonal industry know that the work will not continue past a certain time,” said New Jersey assemblyman Sean Kean, when he co-sponsored the bill. “Therefore, it makes sense to end seasonal workers’ unemployment benefits. This is a common sense measure that will save taxpayers and help the state’s unemployment insurance fund.”

Most states allow seasonal workers to collect unemployment benefits.

In all, about 15 states currently restrict the payment of unemployment benefits to workers who earned some or most of their wages in seasonal jobs. They all define seasons differently, some based on time frames and others based on industries.

How it works – teachers cannot collect, but bus drivers can

Federal law already prohibits professional athletes from accessing unemployment benefits between two seasons. Similarly, teachers who work directly for school districts have been ineligible to take unemployment during the summer, ever since Congress amended federal law in the 1970s.

But for other workers, it’s up to the states to decide. For example, private educational contractors — like bus drivers, crossing guards, janitors and cafeteria workers — have been entitled to unemployment benefits in many states, any time school is out of session.

Landscapers and construction workers can often apply for unemployment in the winter.

Entertainment workers like actors, stagehands, television producers, ballet dancers and opera singers sometimes collect between seasons.

And in some states, even workers in the hospitality industry can submit claims when the tourist season ends.

In the case of school bus drivers, I know  my New Jersey bus driver friend and I agree with Virginia state Delegate Manoli Loupassi.

“They’re not unemployed. They know they’re coming back. They always come back.”

Transparency
Our public institutions need more transparency, but unemployment compensation for seasonal public school workers is hidden from taxpayers, both as a cost and as compensation.  It is a source of inflationary spending.  It violates the spirit of  unemployment benefits as a safety net to help with the burden of “temporary, unanticipated spells of unemployment“.  It should be abolished.

It appears that seasonal workers in New York State can collect unemployment benefits.

November 22, 2012

Most new jobs do not require a college degree

by Grace

63 percent of this decade’s new jobs will not require a college degree.

Industries and occupations related to health care, personal care and social assistance, and construction are projected to have the fastest job growth between 2010 and 2020.


The upward trend in healthcare jobs would seem to be consistent with a United States that is beginning to resemble Europe, with a declining birth rate and an aging population.

As the population continues to age, older groups of Americans are expected to have more rapid growth than younger groups. The 16-to-24 age group is anticipated to experience little population change, with a growth rate of 0.3 percent during 2010–20, while the population ages 25 to 34 is projected to grow 10.5 percent over same timeframe. Meanwhile, the 45-to-54 age group is expected to shrink by 7.6 percent, reflecting the slower birthrate following the baby-boom generation. As the baby boomers continue to age, the 55-and-older population is projected to increase by 29.1 percent, more than any other age group.

Low wages
With only one spouse working, most of these jobs that do not require a bachelor’s degree are unlikely to support a middle-class lifestyle for a family.  But for a two-wage earner family, these jobs can provide a reasonably comfortable lifestyle.  Here are the income figures for the five occupations projected to add the greatest number of new jobs.

Table 2. Occupations with the largest numeric growth, projected 2010-20

  Occupation Number of new jobs added Percent change Wages (May 2010 median) Entry-Level Education Related Work Experience On-the-job Training
Registered Nurses 711,900 26 $64,690 Associate’s degree None None
Retail Salespersons 706,800 17 20,670 Less than high school None Short-term on-the-job training
Home Health Aides 706,300 69 20,560 Less than high school None Short-term on-the-job training
Personal Care Aides 607,000 70 19,640 Less than high school None Short-term on-the-job training
Office Clerks, General 489,500 17 26,610 High school diploma or equivalent None Short-term on-the-job training

A married couple working at any combination of these jobs would land above the “contemporary” poverty line – $33,686 for a family of four.  Based on the median wages from this chart, a registered nurse and a personal care aide would bring in a total income of $84,330.  However, it should be noted that the trend is for a nurse with a bachelor’s degree or a diploma to fare better in the job market.  But even combining the two lowest paying jobs from this chart would generate $40,200 total annual income.

Related:  ‘How Many College Graduates Does the U.S. Labor Force Really Need?’ (Cost of College)

November 21, 2012

Quick links – SUNY tuition increases, GWU gets unranked, teachers’ union makes concessions

by Grace

——  ‘SUNY to ask state for $1.97 billion, a 13% increase’ (lohud.com)

  • Governor Cuomo asked New York State agencies to “estimate zero growth in their budget proposals”.
  • SUNY is asking for a 13% budget increase from the state.
  • In-state undergraduate tuition will increase by about 5%

SUNY’s proposed budget asks for increases of $134 million for university hospitals, $53 million for the system’s four-year colleges and administration, and $37.3 million for community colleges.

According to the board resolution, the system needs increased funding so it can “meet the ongoing costs of current operations, preserve gains in academic quality, achieve excellence and serve the State of New York to the greatest degree possible.”

Politi-speak:

“Generally speaking, people ask for a little more than they think they are going to get,” said Assembly Higher Education Committee chairwoman Deborah Glick, D-Manhattan. “That doesn’t mean that they are not asking for exactly what they need. You don’t always get what you need.”


——  ‘U.S. News Strips George Washington of its Ranking Due to Cheating’ (TaxProf Blog)

From #51 to unranked

George Washington University is now unranked by U.S. News and World Report, following a disclosure earlier this month that it had misreported statistics about the academic achievement of its incoming freshmen.

On the basis of the incorrect data, GWU was No. 51 in the publication’s latest vaunted list of best colleges in the nation, which was published in September. That ranking was higher than the university deserved, U.S. News chief ranker Bob Morse wrote on his blog on Wednesday.

Students are understandably unhappy.

”Students are very, very worried about this,” said Scheckter, 21. ”They are worried about graduating, applying to graduate school having a degree from a university that is now ranked the same as the University of Phoenix, which, no offense to them, is not the same institution. A lot of people pay a hell of a lot of money to come here, thinking they will get a degree from a top 50 university.”

Ranking is based on many factors that can be manipulated and may have no bearing on the quality of a school, but most of us still pay attention to the lists.  I think rankings offer a short-hand way of looking at college quality, albeit in a general and sometimes superficial way.  And some of the data compiled as part of the ranking is useful information in evaluating colleges.


——  Baby steps – teachers’ union in Westchester County agrees to wage freeze and increased health premium contribution

After 16 months of negotiations, the Mamaroneck school board and the teachers’ union have reached an agreement that reduces salary increases for teachers — including a two-year wage freeze — while raising their health premium contributions and eliminating a contractual retirement-recognition payment.

The new agreement, which covers five academic years from 2011-16, contains a freeze on wages from 2012-14, as well as increased instructional time for students.

Under its terms, base pay increases will be held at 2 percent for years 2014 through 2016. The contribution to health-insurance payments will go from 7 percent to 8 percent in the 2015-16 year.

In the private sector, the average percent of health premium paid by employees is 16% for individual coverage and 27% for family coverage. 

A contractual retirement-recognition payment, amounting to 25 percent of each retiring teacher’s salary, has been eliminated beginning in 2013-14 for all new hires. It cost the district more than $1.5 million in the last three years, Pierson said.

The new contract also calls for an increase in student instructional time, with Hommocks Middle School getting up to 20 minutes more per day and the high school up to 15 minutes more per day. At the elementary level, time with students will be increased by 30 minutes per week.

Schools, union reach agreement (lohud.com)

November 20, 2012

‘our nation’s march toward a more technical, STEM type workforce’

by Grace

The strong emerging professional, scientific, and technical job sector deserves attention from college students contemplating college majors.

New Geography labels this a trend ‘toward a more technical, STEM type workforce’

Although the professional, scientific, and technical industry sector makes up only 6% of the U.S. workforce, it was responsible for 10% of national job growth from 2010 to 2012. In addition, the broad industry (NAICS 54) grew by 6% in the past two years, which illustrates our nation’s march toward a more technical, STEM type workforce. There are over 9.2 million jobs in this industry, which is driven by sub-sectors like computer system design services and management, scientific, and technical consulting services.

That 6% job growth looks even better when compared to the anemic overall increase in jobs across all sectors during the same period.  In that light, the BLS outlook appears reasonable.

Among the jobs increasing at a healthy rate are Software Developers, Computer Systems Analysts, Management Analysts, Services Sales Representatives, Market Research Analysts, Interviewers, Interpreters and Translators, Advertising Sales Agents, Public Relations Specialists, Accountants, Bookkeeping Clerks, Chemical Technicians, Chemists, Surveying and Mapping Technicians, and Architects.  (Growth in the last two occupations is related to the geophysical services sector, perhaps with many in North Dakota?)

A few observations:

  • Lawyers are an exception in this category, having not experienced growth in the last two years.  With the glut in unemployed and underemployed attorneys, the outlook is gloomy.
  • Advertising sector job growth surprised me, and even the fact that it was included in this category was an eye-opener.  However, considering the growth of the Internet and social media, I conclude that this field is increasingly requiring specialized technological expertise.  I have a relative majoring in advertising, and next time I have a chance I’ll pick her brain about this.
  • Translation and interpretation services is the second fastest growing sector.  And here I thought technology was putting most translators out of jobs.
  • Most jobs in this sector seem to require at least a bachelor’s degree.  An exception is Surveying and Mapping Technicians.

There’s much more at the link, including information about geographic distribution and job descriptions.  Here’s one that was helpful for me.

Management analysts – Conduct organizational studies and evaluations, design systems and procedures, conduct work simplification and measurement studies, and prepare operations and procedures manuals to assist management in operating more efficiently and effectively.

**********************

More detail about industry sector NAICS 54, Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services - what is is and what it is not:

NAICS Industry Sector Description

The Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services sector comprises establishments that specialize in performing professional, scientific, and technical activities for others. These activities require a high degree of expertise and training. The establishments in this sector specialize according to expertise and provide these services to clients in a variety of industries and, in some cases, to households. Activities performed include: legal advice and representation; accounting, bookkeeping, and payroll services; architectural, engineering, and specialized design services; computer services; consulting services; research services; advertising services; photographic services; translation and interpretation services; veterinary services; and other professional, scientific, and technical services.

This sector excludes establishments primarily engaged in providing a range of day-to-day office administrative services, such as financial planning, billing and recordkeeping, personnel, and physical distribution and logistics. These establishments are classified in Sector 56, Administrative and Support and Waste Management and Remediation Services.

November 19, 2012

We spend $40 billion yearly on Pell Grants, but we have no idea about results

by Grace

Lack of accountability:  The government hides results on a program that costs taxpayers billions of dollars each year.

2. How Do Pell Students Do?

Let us move on to the Pell Grant program, on which our nation spends more than $40 billion a year. Surely with such a large expenditure, we would have and publish detailed statistics on how recipients fare in college, right? NO. What is the percent of Pell Grant recipients at four-year colleges receiving their degree within four, five, or six years?  The Department of Education has such data for graduates of every accredited school in the country -why don’t they have it for those receiving the federal government’s largest grant program?

My guess is that the figure is so embarrassingly low that the government doesn’t want it published. I wrote a year or so ago that the Pell Grant graduate rate, after six years, was 40 percent, based on a bit of statistical estimation I did. No one seriously questioned my result. For every two students who -after six years -succeed to get a degree, three fail. Yet spending on this program has expanded enormously in recent years.

Richard Vedder writes about two other “Things Colleges Don’t Want Us to Know”

 What Are the Teaching Loads?

 How Much Do Students Actually Learn?

Related:  Pell spending is down while number of participating students is up (Cost of College)

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