Cautious Interest in College Among Working Adults

By Paul Fain


Colleges also may not be doing enough to help working adults access federal aid they could receive, said Lauren Walizer, a senior policy analyst at the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP).

For example, she cited financial aid for college students who do not hold a high school diploma or its equivalent, so-called ability-to-benefit students who comprise a large number of aspiring adult learners.

The ability-to-benefit eligibility was nixed during the Obama administration but restored before his second term ended with a requirement that qualifying programs be connected to career pathways.

Walizer described ability-to-benefit aid as a form of dual enrollment for adult students, and eligibility requires students to be enrolled in both adult education and postsecondary programs. It also features a seven-part definition for programs that are connected to careers, although Walizer said many college programs would qualify and that the U.S. Department of Education has been supportive of expanding access to aid for ability-to-benefit students.

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