Stop penalizing poor college students

Matt Zalaznick's picture
Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Pell grant program is the federal government’s main strategy for helping low-income students finish college, but the way the program is designed makes it harder for those same students to graduate on schedule.

The problem is that the program provides support for only 12 credit hours per term, which the government defines as full time for financial aid purposes. To complete a bachelor’s degree in four years, though, students need to enroll for 15 or 16 credit hours. Categorizing students as full time even though they aren’t taking enough credits to graduate, the Pell program works against the interests of the very people it seeks to help.

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