Behind the Headline: Make Pell Grants Conditional on College Readiness

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Make Pell Grants Conditional on College Readiness
Brookings | 10/20/2015

Behind the Headline
Target Aid to Students Most Likely to Succeed
Education Next | Spring 2014

Writing as part of a series on “big ideas for reforming college,” Brookings’ Isabel Sawhill proposes that Pell grants be made conditional on college readiness. She writes

A substantial portion of Pell money is used for remedial courses designed to teach students what they didn’t learn in high school. But students who are not ready for college are likely to join the millions dropping out every year.

If Pell grants were only made available to students who demonstrated readiness for college,

The hope is that kids would attend classes more regularly, study harder, seek extra help, and take more challenging courses. Schools would also work harder to enhance their reputation by graduating more “college-ready, Pell-eligible” kids. And parents would be more likely to nudge their children toward gaining eligibility for the program.

Sawhill elaborates on this argument in “Target Aid to Students Most Likely to Succeed,” which is part of an Education Next forum “Should Pell Grants Target the College Ready?

On the other side of the debate, Sara Goldrick-Rab argues that “Conditional Pell Dollars Miss Students Who Need Them Most.”

— Education Next

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