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Jul 12, 2017  |  PERMALINK »

Advancing Our Goals to Reduce Poverty by Supporting Pell Grants: A Primer for Non-Postsecondary Education Advocates

By Lauren Walizer

For years, Pell Grants have been the foundation of financial aid for low-income students seeking postsecondary education. These grants are among the many anti-poverty efforts that have struggled as Congress has slashed funding for federal programs, particularly those included in the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (Labor-HHS-Ed) budget allocation. To make matters worse, President Trump proposes even deeper and more unacceptable cuts to important programs for low-income people in his fiscal year 2018 budget.

This week, Congress begins the process of making funding decisions for fiscal year 2018. Before final determinations are made, advocates and others who are concerned about addressing poverty would benefit from developing a fuller understanding of the Pell Grant program and the people who benefit from it. For instance, of the 11.6 million jobs created nationwide since the Great Recession, 11.5 million have gone to people with more than a high school diploma. Postsecondary education is critical for helping people increase their earning potential and promoting long-term success in quality employment, and Pell Grants are essential for helping low-income students afford that education. However, the average Pell Grant award has barely increased since 1975, and the maximum award has actually decreased (in inflation-adjusted dollars). Moreover, Pell faces ongoing threats to both student eligibility and program funding.

Our latest paper, Reprioritizing Our Investment in Pell Grants to Further Reduce Poverty, explains who these students are, the threats the program faces, and how changes to Pell funding could improve the stability of the program and the overall Labor-HHS-Ed allocation. This paper is intended as a primer for those who are unfamiliar with postsecondary education issues so they can strengthen the chorus of voices in support of this program.

Read the paper here

Jun 30, 2017  |  PERMALINK »

Reconnecting Justice in the States: Education and Training Pathways from Incarceration to Reentry

By Wayne Taliaferro

A new brief from CLASP examines how California is aligning education and training opportunities for people who are currently or formerly incarcerated. This is the first brief in our series “Reconnecting Justice in the States,” which will explore coordinated justice, education, and workforce policy and practice at the state level.  It is part of CLASP’s continued commitment to leverage criminal justice reform to expand economic opportunity and help achieve racial equity.

The majority (2 million) of incarcerated people are serving their sentences in state prisons and local jails, making states and local jurisdictions ground zero for criminal justice reform. Additionally, 650,000 people are released from prisons and jails each year. These individuals experience systemic, legally embedded discrimination that prevents economic mobility and increases the chances of recidivism. Currently, three-quarters of people leaving prison reoffend within five years. However, correctional education reduces people’s likelihood to reoffend by 43 percent as well as increases their likelihood to find a job by 13 percent. Combined with comprehensive policies that support reentry, education and training can serve as a strong pathway to economic security.

Leveraging the power of federal, state, and local policies is essential to realize systemic reform. June marked the one-year anniversary of the Second Chance Pell Pilot program as well as the introduction of the Second Chance Reauthorization Act of 2017 in the U.S. House of Representatives. These federal levers have tremendous potential, but they are far more effective when coupled with state reforms. States should use the opportunity provided by federal funding streams to innovate and build sustainable reform strategies.

Click here to read the first brief.

Jun 21, 2017  |  PERMALINK »

AHCA's Medicaid Cuts Would Harm Students and Threaten State Funding

By Duy Pham and David Socolow

In May, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and slash federal support for state Medicaid programs. Now, the U.S. Senate is working on similar legislation.

The AHCA is projected to make coverage less affordable and leave 23 million Americans uninsured by 2026. Low-income and nontraditional college students are especially likely to lose coverage, which will impede their ability to complete their postsecondary education. Furthermore, AHCA’s $457 billion in Medicaid cuts over 10 years would create major budget problems for states that maintain their enrollment levels.

The ACHA, and similar proposals in the Senate, would force states to deny coverage and ration care—or to divert funds from other state programs, such as postsecondary education, to make up for the lost Medicaid dollars. This echoes the period after the Great Recession, when states slashed postsecondary education funding to balance their budgets. State postsecondary funding fell nearly $29 billion on a per-student basis between 2008 and 2012—a cut of almost $2,500 per student. If Medicaid cuts like those in the AHCA become law, today’s policymakers will be forced to make similar decisions. In a new state-by-state analysis, CLASP directly compares the state fiscal impacts from the proposed Medicaid cuts to the deep cuts in state support for postsecondary education during the Great Recession.

These proposed cuts to Medicaid would severely harm college students twice—denying health insurance to millions of students in postsecondary education and forcing policymakers to fill the enormous Medicaid holes in their state budgets by decreasing funding for public colleges and universities. 

Read the report

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