More Pell Means Higher Enrollment

Apparently increases in Pell Grants lead to increases in the number of students enrolled in community colleges. According to an article by Caralee Adams at Education Week:

“The Growing Impact of New Pell Grant Funding,” released at the annual meeting of the Council for the Study of Community Colleges, in New Orleans last week, examines 205 community colleges in 25 states.

It found that the number of Pell Grant awards on those campuses increased 56 percent from 2008-09 to 2009-10, from about 690,000 students to 1.1 million. The total dollars awarded increased from $1.4 million to $2.5 million, or 76 percent in that same time.

This Pell Grant increase appeared to make college a lot more attractive. As Adams explains,

Full-time student enrollment increased nearly 14 percent (almost 187,000 students), while overall enrollment jumped about 9 percent (about 255,000 students) from 2008-09 to 2009-10.

Higher enrollment in community colleges is sort of a mixed blessing, however. While in theory more students in community colleges means simply more people in college (which America rather seems to like), in recent years community colleges have been overburdened by unemployed people looking for retraining and middle class students trying to save money before transferring to traditional schools.

More money for Pell also, at least for a year or two, makes community college cheaper because more of the cost is covered by the federal government. So, at least for individuals, more Pell makes going to college easier.

No word yet on whether or not more Pell makes people more likely to graduate.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer