Pell Grants critical to getting low income students into college, but some CT schools lag

by Jacob Solomon Feb 5, 2023 News
Pell Grants critical to getting low income students into college, but some CT schools lag

As the cost of college increases, experts say the best way to allow people from lower socio-economic levels to get access to higher education is with a grant from the federal government.

Wil Del Pilar, the vice president for higher education at The Education Trust, said that the most important, access initiative or grant that the federal government effectively participates in is the Pell grant. Low income students get access to education through this form.

The federal aid marker is not always reflective of the aid universities give students directly and does not take into account aid given to all students in need.

The University of Connecticut has the lowest percentage of grant recipients. In the 2020-21 school year, nearly 8 percent of the freshman class at the university received a Pell Grant, the lowest in the country.

Only two of Connecticut's private schools and universities had freshman classes where less than half of the students received a college loan.

In the state's public universities, the number of first-year students receiving grants ranged from 46 percent at Southern Connecticut State University to 22 percent at the University of Connecticut

Some of the colleges and universities in Connecticut are among the most expensive in the country to attend, including Connecticut College which is ranked 23rd in the country in terms of cost.

Up to $7,000 a year is provided for students of exceptional financial need by the plill grant. The number of students at a university or college that receive a Pell Grant shows how committed those institutions are to enroll low income students.

He said that institutions that enroll high numbers are taking access seriously. As a proxy for low income students, institutions that enroll low numbers of low income students are not doing enough to create access and opportunity. Students who are full paid are the focus. They're more concerned about the finances of the program.

Some university officials said that the Pell Grants are just part of the larger picture.

The vice president of marketing and communications said in a statement that the university doesn't view the grant as relevant.

"Fairfield has increased our student aid by 40 percent over the last five years, launched a fully funded Company Scholars programming offering a four-year degree to high-need students from Jesuit and Cristo Rey schools, and is opening a new campus this fall to increase access for students in the area The intentional approach is more strategic than just recruiting based on eligibility.

Private, four-year colleges and universities in Connecticut with more than 1,000 undergraduate students are more likely to have a higher percentage of freshman receiving a grant.

In the 2020-21 school year, Post University had 74 percent of its freshman receive a Pell Grant.

Trinity College had the lowest percentage in the state at 15%.

The University of New Haven had 30 percent, while Albertus Magnus had 47 percent, University of Saint Joseph had 40 percent, and University of Hartford had 49 percent.

The critical population of students that need financial support to pay for college is served by the university.

The top performers in social mobility were ranked by U.S. News World Report. Although not a strategy to increase the number of students that are eligible, we understand the importance of providing affordable access to higher education. Affordability is a challenge for all schools. It is important for us to assist students with college affordability and it is also important for us to help students enroll in college.

At the University of Saint Joseph in West Hartford, students from families with limited means have an opportunity to achieve their academic goals and graduate with degrees that prepare them to meet workforce needs, according to the university's Director of Marketing and Communications.

She said that without the grants the students wouldn't have been able to get their degrees. The USJ enrolls and graduates many students who are eligible for grants. USJ will continue to recruit and enroll eligible students and find additional sources of funding that are vital for them to achieve their academic and career goals.

The New London college has a long-standing history of serving a diverse group of students and will continue to do so, according to a Mitchell College spokesman.

College can become an engine of social reproduction if low income students don't enroll.

Grants can be created. It's okay. The design of those programs is important as well. If they have programs that are based on merit, you will see that they are geared towards wealthier students. Those institutions with a lower number of students with the grant are more likely to enroll a group of students who are better off.

Catherine Brown is the senior director of policy and advocacy for NCAN, a network of 600 college access and success organizations.

The majority of the grant recipients are from families earning less than $40,000 a year. She said that at its peak, the grants covered 70% of the cost of public college.

The purchasing power of the grant has gone down. That's the reason we're trying to double Pell.

All of Connecticut's public universities have a higher number of recipients of the grant. 73 percent of Connecticut's community colleges are affordable but none of the state's four-year public schools are. According to her organization's analysis, the Connecticut students left $30 million on the table to help pay for college.

According to Brown, college is a great place to break poverty and help people get a living wage. She said the percentage of students receiving the grant is an indication of the school's dedication to serving low-income students.

She said that it's usually problematic when universities don't serve a lot of students with grants. Higher education can help perpetuate privilege.

Anderson said that one of the affordability metrics is the amount of money spent on education. She said that the grant doesn't capture all types of demonstrated need, and that the university provides financial aid for students who are not US citizens.

She said that "Fairfield has committed to fully funding low-income students from select Jesuit high schools internationally." The university committed $6 million for these groups in the 21st century.

"Fairfield's financial aid strategy is to admit students with an intent to retain and graduate with little to no disparity in graduation rates." The number of traditional undergraduate students increased by more than 20%. Aid based on merit and need went up. In the year 2022, we increased our financial aid to over 100 million dollars.

The university is offering associate's degrees as a way to bridge the gap between high school and college for 200 eligible students.

At Sacred Heart University, officials want to increase the number of such students and offer them the chance to attend part-time.

The university works to find students other forms of student aid, according to Deb Noack, the executive director of communications. The current grant of $6,800 isn't enough, she said.

The government ranks schools on their support for students. If recipients are going to be able to consider private institutions, then the federal grant should be doubled. It's not a good idea to judge a higher education institution by the number of students it has, especially those that give more money to low-income students than the grant gives.

The decline of need-based funding for low-income students in Connecticut has made it difficult for private institutions to compete with public colleges.

Carolyn Meyer, the media relations manager at the University of New Haven, said it continues to expand access to higher education and create educational pathways and relationships with area high schools.

Pell Grants have had a huge impact on generations of deserving students. Institutional financial aid and scholarships supported by donors, foundations, and corporations are an important part of expanding access to higher education. It is important for the University of New Haven to articulate the impact of a degree on an individual's life, earning power, and the communities they live in.

Over the past decade, Yale's number and proportion of students receiving grants has grown dramatically.

The undergraduate student body was nearly 20 percent smaller than it was a year ago, and only 12 percent of first-year students received a Pell Grant. The number of eligible students at Yale College has more than doubled in the last 10 years.

The number of Yale students who are eligible for a Pell Grant has increased by 55 percent over the last two years. Although officials still hope the number of students who receive it continues to grow, he said Pell is a useful but incomplete measure of the population of lower income students.

Every year, Yale covers the full cost of tuition, housing, the meal plan, travel expenses, and hospitalization insurance for many lower-income students who are not eligible for Pell Grants because they are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents. The metric is useful shorthand for comparing institutions, asYale is more interested in continuing to expand educational opportunities for students from first-generation and low-income background than specifically looking to increase the percentage of students who are eligible for financial aid.

According to the senior director of strategic content and media relations at Trinity College, the institution's commitment to making college more accessible to all students has resulted in a 60 percent increase in financial aid since 2015.

She said that it is not the only measure that is looked at when it comes to socioeconomic diversity. Trinity is involved in a number of initiatives to help low- and middle-income students.

The University of Hartford will continue to find ways to help students with high financial need, according to the director of student financial aid.

She said that not every school will be affordable for everyone. Set some basic affordability thresholds for your family and then allow yourself to go through the full financial aid process at each school. It is possible that you will be surprised by the final estimate you receive.

Requests for comment were not responded to by the colleges.

Joshua. LaBella is an employee of Hearst Mediact.