Pell Grants, Stimulus Packages and Underemployment
The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) has put together a cogent articulation of the top policy issues facing higher education and Number 3 is, not surprisingly, student grant aid. While states are sure to continue cutting budgets (is California only the canary in the coalmine?), Obama’s stimulus package allots billions to the Pell Grant program. AASCU notes that Pell has seen “ .a huge increase in the number of applications in light of the economic downturn.”
While $12 billion to $15 billion sounds like a lot, obviously, there are a lot of folks dreaming about the role that college might play in often extended periods of underemployment.
Had we “world enough and time” as the poet Andrew Marvel might say -- and to which I would add lots of Pell grant dollars -- this pending Depression might not be near as much of a crime.
God bless Secretary of Education Arne Duncan as he works to implement mechanisms for ensuring that this money, which is part of a $100 billion package for education, meets the immense need that is out there.
It’s a gamble we can’t afford to lose. It’s also a gamble we can afford to miss.