Thousands of low-income students in nearly two dozen states will soon be able to get federal grants to take college courses while still in high school, part of a program the Obama administration plans to begin this summer. The experimental program allows high school kids to apply for federal Pell grant money to pay for college courses. The "dual enrollment" program is designed to help students from lower-income backgrounds. The Education Department says the administration will invest about 20 million in the 2016-17 school year to help about 10,000 students. On Monday, the administration is announcing 44 colleges that are expected to participate in the program.
The move is just the latest in a series of experiments rolling out of the Obama administration aimed at increasing access to higher education, especially for low-income students. "Many students from low-income backgrounds don't have the opportunity to take the courses that will prepare them for college," Education Secretary John King said on a press call Monday. "And in all but a handful of states, students and their parents must bear some or all of the costs [of dual enrollment programs]." The Education Department sees dual enrollment arrangements, in which students enroll in postsecondary coursework while also enrolled in high school, as a potentially promising approach toward improving academic outcomes for students and increasing their odds of earning a degree. The department is hoping that's especially true for poor students, who disproportionately lack access to rigorous coursework and other types of support services that prepare students for college.
Wealthy private colleges are under pressure to enroll more low-income students. Four schools are looking to be a model. Generally, despite their prosperity, rich colleges don't give many students of lesser means a shot at an elite, private education. But there are private institutions that buck this trend. At Williams College, a highly selective liberal arts college in rural Massachusetts, 22 percent of its roughly 2,000 students last academic year received Pell Grants -- federal aid typically for students from families earning less than $40,000 a year.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos called President Trump's budget proposal, which would cut the Department of Education's funding by $9.2 billion, "an historic investment in America's students. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos called President Trump's budget proposal, which would cut the Department of Education's funding by $9.2 billion, "an historic investment in America's students. President Trump's budget proposal, released Tuesday, seeks to cut education funding by $9.2 billion overall. It would take away some federal support, such as money for the Special Olympics and a reading initiative, while promoting school vouchers and boosting dollars for charter schools. To U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, the plan is "an historic investment in America's students."
The vast majority of public two- and four-year colleges report enrolling students – more than half a million of them–who are not ready for college-level work, a Hechinger Report investigation of 44 states has found. The numbers reveal a glaring gap in the nation's education system: A high school diploma, no matter how recently earned, doesn't guarantee that students are prepared for college courses. Higher education institutions across the country are forced to spend time, money and energy to solve this disconnect. They must determine who's not ready for college and attempt to get those students up to speed as quickly as possible, or risk losing them altogether. Most schools place students in what are called remedial courses in math or English before they can move on to a full load of college-level, credit-bearing courses – a process that is a financial drain on not only students, but also colleges and taxpayers, costing up to an estimated $7 billion a year.