Nov 2, 2019

Pell Grant loses its punch against the rising cost of college

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Adapted from Center on Budget and Policy Priorities; Chart: Axios Visuals

Pell Grants are intended to give low-income students a shot at a college education, but the funds that students receive only cover a fraction of rising present-day college tuitions and fees.

The big picture: The federal subsidies are administered by the Department of Education, originally created by the Higher Education Act of 1965. In 1975, the largest Pell Grant award offset 79% of the average cost of attendance to a four-year public university. That coverage shrank to 29% of tuition in 2017, data from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows.

  • The average cost for an in-state student at a four-year public school, plus room and board was $21,370 annually as of 2018, according to an analysis from the nonprofit College Board.
  • The maximum Pell Grant award for students was raised from $6,095 in the 2018-2019 school year to $6,195 for 2019-2020.
  • Typical students who receive the award are from the lowest income bracket and only eligible if they submit their family income information via Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This became available for the 2020-2021 school year in October.

The bottom line: The Pell Grant program is the largest source of federal aid, totaling $28.7 billion in fiscal year 2018 to help 7.1 million students.

  • Democrats and Republicans, including those running for president in 2020, have long agreed that more students should have access to the program and receive larger grant sums. The debate lies, however, in who to expand grants to, and how to appropriate them.

Go deeper: Congress considers granting more access to education in prison

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A new Institute of International Education report shows that the number of international students newly enrolled in U.S. colleges and universities fell by 1% last academic year, per AP.

Why it matters: The drop marks the third consecutive year that enrollment for international students dipped, following 7% and 3% decreases in the two previous years, which were the first downturns in more than a decade.

Go deeperArrowNov 18, 2019

“Students were failed": Trump admin cancels 1,500 student loans

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The Department of Education will cancel federal loans for about 1,500 defrauded students at two shuttered art institutions, reports the New York Times.

Why it matters: This represents a "rare victory" from Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, who has limited relief programs for students who claim they've been deceived by the "career-school chain," writes the Times.

Go deeperArrowNov 9, 2019

Mayor Pete's twist on college debt

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Pete Buttigieg, who recently rocketed to the top of polls in Iowa, released a $500 billion college affordability plan today, which would make public college tuition free for households earning under $100,000 and inject $120 billion into federal Pell Grants.

The big picture: It contrasts with more expansive proposals from Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, who want to wipe out all college tuition and debt — though nearly every 2020 contender has their own ideas.

Go deeperArrowNov 18, 2019