Federal Pell Grants are not helping impoverished students although that was the original intent of the stipends. Due in part to the current recession, this federal student aid program is one of the fastest-growing federal programs to date, but it has failed the poor students of America, the John William Pope Center for Higher Education found.
To briefly explain, Pell grants are government funds awarded to students who show they need federal student aid to fund their college tuition. Today, about 60% of undergraduate students are funded by these Pell grants and they make up the Department of Education’s largest expenditure. But what do we have to show for it?
In the study, the authors Jenna Ashley Robinson and Duke Cheston discovered that the program has expanded to cover almost anyone of any academic or social background. There are no minimum GPA requirements or SAT scores, only a high school diploma or its equivalent. But more often than not, Pell grant recipients attend college and drop out, leaving the taxpayers paying the tab.
In fact, the percentage of poor students who received a bachelor’s degree by age 24 decreased from 21.9% to 19.9% since 1970 (when Pell grants were introduced). In addition, Pell grants are being funneled to the middle class, with 6% of recipients having parents who earn more than $50,000 in income.
Spencer Irvine is a research assistant at Accuracy in Academia.
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