Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Beyond the Pell

Millions of students each year receive a pell grant. This is assistance provided by the Federal government to be able to afford college. It is a good program. I know many people, maybe you do too, that have been able to better their lives through this program. I did not receive a pell grant. I worked my way through school, and I had parents who helped me when I needed it. I wish we did not need it but the truth is that of all the waste and inefficiency of Washington, this program is a bright spot. 


Here is a interesting article on the pell grant program and the funding levels. Over the last couple of years, and in projections the program has and will operate at a surplus. That means that less funds are being spent than was allocated. This means that there will need to be no increase in the annual commitment. There is however some caveats. 
There was a significant increase in the spending in 2009, due to the increase legislated through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. This bill is also know as the President's Porkulus bill. This act raised the maximum grant level per student to $5550. This funding level has been maintained. The program will continue to grow and increase in cost. It is unknown how much longer this elevated rate and projected surplus will last. The program could stand some reforms. 
1. Take the per student allocation maximum back to $4731. This was the level back in 2008. This would still give students plenty of funds while scaling back the cost. 
2. Change the way the program operates. Instead of just taking the money, per semester, out for tution and books, and then refunding the difference to the student, roll the money over. Have the money maintained in a account, associated with the student's social security number. At the end of the allotted time, if there is any overage than the money is rolled back into the program. This will also save costs. 
I am not an expert in this field, but the system needs reform. At this rate the program will continue to grow in terms of expenditures. These ideas are just a start. We need to rethink the way we do things. Just throwing money at the problem is not going to cut it. 

Below is a chart that details the growth over the last several years. This chart was in the above article. 

Pell Grant Funding and Award Level by Year
Funding by Source ($ billions)
Prior years' surplus-----
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act13.54.2-------
2010 Student loan reform (one-time funds)-10.73.9------
2011 year-round grant elimination--3.2-----1.1
Budget Control Act--
2012 Grace period interest subsidy elimination/other---
Mandatory/entitlement formula2.
Maximum Grant ($)
Note: Appropriations prior to 2015 are law; figures for 2015 through 2017 reflect Congressional Budget Office estimates of the appropriation needed to fund the grant level shown at the bottom. All other funding sources are currently in law. Total funding row reflects what lawmakers made available, not the cost of the program, which was generally lower than the cost in recent years, particularly in 2012 and 2013, resulting in the large surpluses available in 2014 through 2016.
PUBLISHED SEP 23 2014 15:33

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