CCA Highlights Unfair Criticism of Pell Grant Revenue by Chronicle of Higher Education

On January 8, the Career College Association responded to The Chronicle of Higher Education’s "For-Profit Colleges Capitalize on Pell Grant Revenue" with the following:

"We note with interest the out of context and apropos of essentially nothing Chronicle Financial Data chart titled "For-Profit Colleges Capitalize on Pell Grant Revenue." So what? The distribution of Pell Grants to career college students reflects the fact that career colleges educate a significantly higher percentage of economically disadvantaged students than do most other sectors. The distribution is also distorted by the low proportion of community college students receiving such grants due to their low application rates for federal student aid.

Over 62 percent of the students at for-profit schools (nearly 71 at two-year schools) are either below or at the poverty level or at 200 percent of the poverty level. In comparison, 32 percent of public four-year, 41 percent of public two-year and 29 percent of private non-profit students, respectively, are in the same economic situation. While almost all career college students apply for federal student aid, including Pell grants for those eligible, only 57 percent of community college students apply for Federal student aid. Adjusting the distribution of Pell grants so that the community college share is based on the application rate of career students would result in the community college sector receiving 52 percent and not the 30 percent of Pell grants. So simplify FAFSA and have community colleges provide more assistance to their students in completing their application. Do not implicitly criticize our sector for doing right by our students.

To be particularly helpful (apparently), the Chronicle notes the proprietary schools represent six percent of students in higher education but claim 20 percent of Pell Grant money. First, most people agree the six percent figure for our sector is low, especially if one looks at year round starts, not just September starts (the agriculture age is over). We are closer to ten percent and growing rapidly. If not the career college sector, who will provide non-traditional students with the skills and abilities they need to compete in a 21st century workforce? The only option is community colleges, now strapped for funds and cutting programs. Certainly not traditional colleges and universities. Why not show a companion chart that indicates America’s top 20 schools educate just .7 percent of students and, because they largely serve the nation’s wealthiest families, draw just .002 percent of Pell dollars?"

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