Go tell the Spartans, stranger passing by, that here, obedient to their laws, we lie.

Today, I saw this story about the Obama Administration’s proposal to return to year-round eligibility (which is a great idea!) and adding a $300 bonus for Pell recipients who take at least 15 credits per semester.

I looked at our data in Virginia. At both the public and private four-years, 76% of full-time students take at least 15 hours in their first term. So, the $300 will be mostly a (needed) bonus to those students, while perhaps changing behavior for the other 24%. There are details in what I did that I will discuss at the SCHEV Research blog this weekend about why part of the 24% may not change much, if at all.

At the public two-years, it is only about 40% of students taking 15 credits or more in their first term. So, there is a lot of possibility here – assuming $300 is adequate to either change behavior or overcome cost barriers, such as textbooks, commuting, and daycare.

My first year in Virginia I had a board member that was convinced that all we needed to do to increase timely completion was to offer a significant rebate to students who completed their bachelor’s degree in four years or less. When I explained that we would have to give that rebate to everyone who already completed on time, he kept insisting that “no, we only give it to those who wouldn’t have done so.” “And they are….?”

So, while I am probably all in favor of increasing Pell, I’d rather just do that outright and pro-rate it by each full-time hour since there are differences in cost at many places. I would also like to see the entire EFC model validated and then modified to produce a  realistic estimate of what students and families can be expected to pay.

Yes, I believe it to be broken and that it exists now only as a rationing tool to limit the cost of Pell.

By all means, go tell the Spartans.

Be nice. It won't hurt either of us.

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