The Department of Education has issued a proposal to study how expanding access to Pell Grants impacts students’ post-college employment and earnings, as well as the level of student debt and financial aid that participants accrue.
A notice from the Department of Education, which is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register, describes the study as a two-part, five-year experiment. The first part of the study relaxes the prohibition on receipt of Pell Grants by students with a bachelor’s degree; eligible students must be unemployed or underemployed and pursuing a year-long career training program.
The second experiment reduces the duration and intensity of programs that are Pell Grant eligible. Current regulations restrict Pell Grants to programs that are a minimum of 15 weeks long and with at least 600 clock hours of instruction. The proposed change would expand Pell Grant eligibility to include programs that are at least eight weeks long and have a minimum of 150 clock hours of instruction.
The first experiment will involve approximately 30 schools with an average of 100 participating students at each school. The second experiment will involve roughly 40 schools, with an average of 200 participating students per school.
While the study is predicted to last five years, the students’ enrollment period is expected to last from July 2012 until January 2014. Data for the study will be extracted from participants Free Application for Federal Student Aid applications, school administrative records, Social Security Administration earnings statements and a survey of study participants that will be conducted between July 2014 and March 2015.
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