Expand Student Financing and Supports

August 16, 2010

Financing available to low-income adults and disadvantaged youth is paltry compared to their need.  The inflation-adjusted value of the Pell grant has eroded significantly, and student financial aid packages often leave low-income students without enough grant funds to pay for direct (tuition and fees) and indirect (housing, child care, transportation, etc.) costs of college.  Compounding this problem, student aid programs are designed for traditional students and the aid award formulas put adult, working, and part-time students at a disadvantage.

In addition to funding, it is becoming increasingly clear that low-income and disadvantaged students need supportive services such as counseling, career and financial advising, and child care and transportation assistance to help them stay in and complete education and training programs.  Yet, there is no systemic public funding for these services at either the federal or state level.  Institutions often cobble together these services–typically in partnership with community-based organizations–however the need vastly outstrips available resources.

To overcome these challenges, the C-PES supports and advocates for:

  • More and better student financing to help low-income and disadvantaged students access education and training and persist long enough to attain postsecondary credentials. C-PES promotes policies that increase student financial aid in higher education, including Work Study opportunities designed specifically to support low-income adults and disadvantaged youth.  We advocate for federal and state policies that leverage and coordinate student financing from many sources (e.g. student financial aid, WIA Title I, TAA, TANF, employers) to increase low-wage worker access to education and training.
  • Policies that enhance student support services so vulnerable students can persevere in education and training programs under challenging circumstances.  There is growing awareness of how critical student supports are to student success, but federal and state policies do not adequately meet this need.  C-PES advocates for policies that support academic student support services, including tutoring, study skills seminars, and learning communities; personal student support services such as child care, transportation, access to personal counseling, and emergency funds to assist students with minor crises before they become major derailments to their education and training; and college and career exploration and advising opportunities, including college orientation and success courses, that help students navigate college and explore career options.

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