As Pell Grants grew in value, more rural students in Kansas enrolled in community college and moved from part-time to full-time status, concludes a University of Alabama study.
Pell Grant dollars distributed to Kansas students nearly doubled between 2008 and 2010. The rise in community college enrollment was especially significant in western Kansas, which has flat or declining population.
. . . increased Pell funding clearly helps western, rural Kansas educate larger percentages of its present workforce—a workforce that is already in place, committed to staying and building the region.
. . . in rural America, there is no training alternative to the rural community college. Their health is tied to the long-term skills of the rural workforce.
For example, Garden City Community College is located in rural Finney County, which lost 9.1 percent of population between 2000 and 2010.
Keeping talented young people is a major challenge, and Pell Grants are an important partner for rural Kansas. In Fall 2008, 538 GCCC students received $928,610 in Pell Grant awards; this figure jumped to 748 students and $1,619,004 in Fall 2010. The dollar value of Pell grew by 57%, as total awards grew 39%.
The impact was to lower the net marginal cost by 4%, which in turn opened wider the doors to postsecondary opportunities for price sensitive rural students to take more credit hours. In Fall 2008, 903 students attended full-time and 1,232 attended part-time; by Fall 2010, 1,046 attended full-time and 1,084 attended part-time. The percentage of students attending full- time rose sharply, from 42% to 49% in just two years, as more students take more credit hours.
“By strengthening the base of full-time students, Pell has improved our economies of scale, enabling us to better serve our non-credit workforce training function to reach workers displaced by the recession,” President Herbert J. Swender said.