Pell Grant Experiment For High School Students Praised

The National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP) applauds President Obama’s recent announcement of a federal Pell grant experiment for dual enrollment. Across the country, 1.4 million students participate in dual and concurrent enrollment, which enables high school students to enroll in college courses. However, Pell grants—the most important source of federal financial aid for low-income students aspiring to a college education—are not available to students who are still in high school. This experiment will help identify new approaches to enrolling more low-income students in early college and other dual enrollment programs. Dual enrollment and early college models have been proven to significantly increase low-income students’ chances of college success, providing an effective pathway to college completion.

At a time when postsecondary education is critical to the economy, but only 9 percent of those born in the lowest family income quartile attain a bachelor’s degree by age 25 (compared to 54 percent in the top quartile), we need to dramatically increase the numbers of low income students gaining early exposure to college through dual enrollment.

“We are pleased that there is growing recognition in Washington of the importance of financial support for low-income student participation in dual enrollment,” said Adam Lowe, Executive Director of NACEP. With ever increasing numbers of students participating in dual and concurrent enrollment, these experiments would yield valuable information about the intricacies of extending federal financial aid to students simultaneously enrolled in high school.”

NACEP and partner organizations are working to expand dual and concurrent enrollment options and early college high schools, including Bard College, EDWorks, Jobs for the Future, KnowledgeWorks, Middle College National Consortium, and the Ohio Early College Association. These partners have worked closely with over 10,400 dual and concurrent enrollment programs, early college high schools, and their postsecondary partners across the country, with many more currently in development across the nation.

“We and our partners strongly believe that the proposed experimental site has the potential to bring to bear smart and effective uses of Pell for dual enrollment that will result in persistence through college and credential completion for low-income students. We stand ready to work collaboratively with the Administration to ensure an effective and informative dual enrollment experimental site,” said Joel Vargas, Vice President at Jobs for the Future, a nonprofit working to improve the pathways leading from high school to college to family-supporting careers

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