Pell grants are a lifeline for many American students, costing billions of taxpayer dollars, but what do we have to show for it? A policy paper by the American Enterprise Institute’s Kevin James points out that Pell grants do not help students looking to transition to a career field.
James noted that “almost one-third of Pell Grant dollars are going to students pursuing career education,” or in other words, students who are going into technical fields and blue-collar jobs. Overall, as a different study from the New America Foundation noted, 42% of Pell Grant recipients are seeking a two-year associate’s degree, or about $10 billion is invested in these vocational career students. The study also pointed out the strict guidelines of the Pell Grant put these vocational students in a tough situation. As the study said:
“These restrictions around how students can apply their Pell grants and loans are often at odds with the needs of career education students, who may be better served by short-term, modularized, and/or self-paced programs. Unlike many traditional-age students, career education students often do not have two or four years to spare for full-time study. They also tend to be older and more experienced than their counterparts in traditional academic programs. A more appropriate financing system would link financial aid to demonstrations of learning that can be captured in high-quality credentials with value in the labor market.”