Cornell professor of political science Suzanne Mettler writes about how “federal student aid has become less effective in promoting opportunity”.
… In the 1970s, the maximum Pell grants for low-income students covered nearly 80 percent of costs at the average four-year public university, but by 2013-14 they covered just 31 percent. Presidents beginning with Bill Clinton introduced costly new tax policies to help with tuition, but these have failed to improve access for the less well off.
Perhaps if Pell Grant funds were spent more efficiently, they could be used to cover a higher percent of costs for qualifying students.
‘Pell Grants Shouldn’t Pay for Remedial College’
… A huge proportion of this $40 billion annual federal investment is flowing to people who simply aren’t prepared to do college-level work. And this is perverting higher education’s mission, suppressing completion rates and warping the country’s K-12 system.
Current Pell Grant spending is wasteful.
About two-thirds of low-income community-college students — and one-third of poor students at four-year colleges — need remedial (aka “developmental”) education, according to Complete College America, a nonprofit group. But it’s not working: Less than 10 percent of students who start in remedial education graduate from community college within three years, and just 35 percent of remedial students earn a four-year degree within six years.
One solution would be to limit Pell Grant eligibility to students prepared to do college-level work. That could be accomplished by having colleges establish minimum requirements for admission based on rigorous entrance exams.