Study

Pell Grant Restrictions Affect Enrollment at Community Colleges in the South

Community colleges across the country have seen a steep decline in enrollments this year for a few reasons. A recovering economy steering students toward jobs and budget cuts that have led to fee increases have played key roles but changes to federal Pell grant eligibility are most notable. According to a new study, community colleges in the Deep South have been hit hardest by the changes that took effect last year.

The study, by Education Policy Center at the University of Alabama director Stephen Katsinas, argues that community college enrollments in Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi are highly sensitive to changes in the federal grant program. Enrollment in 47 of the 62 two-year colleges across the three states declined this past fall and more than 5,000 students lost Pell grants – a change that the report's authors say can be directly attributed to the changes in eligibility. Students are now limited to just six years of Pell grants, fewer students automatically qualify for the maximum grant because of a lower income cap for receiving an “automatic zero” expected family contribution and students without a high school diploma or GED are no longer eligible.

While many states have started to see their economies improve, that’s not the case for the three states included in the study. In fact, not only have their economies not recovered but state-supported student aid programs are much smaller, so colleges have fewer resources for low-income students who no longer qualify for Pell grants. Both Pell grants and community colleges are "vital to enhancing college degree completion in the Deep South, for it is the community colleges where economically disadvantaged students begin higher education," the study noted. The enrollment numbers were based on surveys of community college officials. All of the two-year colleges in the three-state region responded. However, the national enrollment data for 2012 hasn't been compiled yet, said David Thomas, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Education.

About Scholarships.com

Since its founding in 1999, Scholarships.com has had one goal: to help students find money for college. More than a decade later, Scholarships.com is recognized by high schools, colleges and universities nationwide and remains a trusted option for students and parents navigating the college and financial aid processes. To obtain more information, order free materials or create a profile, visit www.scholarships.com.

Media Contact:

Kevin Ladd
Scholarships.com
Phone: 847-432-1700 x 111
knl@scholarships.com

Latest College & Financial Aid News

Blind NY Resident Suing 50 US Colleges

December 11, 2018

by Susan Dutca

A blind New York resident is suing 50 colleges nationwide over the accessibility of their websites. According to Jason Camacho, the "colleges are in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, as their websites are not accessible to people with disabilities." This is not the first time Camacho has sued higher education institutions over website accessibility. [...]

U.S. News Asked by Senate to Change Ranking Formula, Aid Underrepresented Students

December 4, 2018

by Susan Dutca

In a letter to the influential ranker of colleges, U.S. News & World Report, a group of Democratic senators urged them to use their "influential platform" to overhaul their college ranking formula by giving more weight to institutions that open their doors to students from underrepresented backgrounds when ranking schools. [...]

Rider U to Ban Chick-fil-A Over Conservative Values

November 27, 2018

by Susan Dutca

Despite being voted the top choice for a fast-food restaurant last year at the college, Chick-fil-A will no longer be a restaurant franchise option at Rider University "based on the company's record widely perceived to be in opposition to the LGBTQ+ community." The decision to remove Chick-fil-A as a new restaurant franchise option "required a difficult assessment of competing interests." [...]