Putting Pell Grants to work for working students

By Katie Brown, March 06, 2018

Federal higher education policy has historically been designed to expand access to traditional two-and four-year academic degree programs, with a particular focus on first-time, full-time students. While these policy decisions have resulted in a significant increase in the percentage of students receiving bachelor’s degrees, they have failed to satisfy the growing demand for qualified workers to fill “middle-skill” jobs—those requiring more than a high school diploma but less than a college degree.

It is time to end this outdated policy bias against working students, and modernize our federal financial aid system to be better aligned with the needs of today’s students and employers. Putting Pell Grants to work for working students includes federal policy recommendations and case studies from Iowa and Virginia where officials stepped up to enroll students in short-term programs that lead to job attainment in in-demand industries.