The nation can’t afford to cut Pell Grants for “non-traditional” students, argues the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) and the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS) in Not Just Kid Stuff Anymore: The Economic Imperative for More Adults to Complete College (pdf).
The traditional source of new workers — high school graduates — will hold steady nationwide and decline by as much as 18 to 20 percent in some states, the report predicts. States with declining young workers include Ohio, Michigan, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York.
By 2018 the demand for college-educated workers will rise 16 percent, while demand for other workers will stay flat. At the same time, nearly two-thirds of jobs in 2018 will require some postsecondary education or training.
. . . “The country’s economic competitiveness rests on more people accessing postsecondary education and credentials,” said Patrick Kelly, a senior associate at NCHEMS and coauthor of the report. “And with the aging of our population and decline in number of recent high school graduates entering college and the workforce, we need to make sure even more adults and nontraditional students have the skills they need to fill tomorrow’s jobs.”
Nontraditional students already make up a significant percent of the college population: 36 percent of undergraduates are age 25 or older, 47 percent are self-supporting, 23 percent of undergraduates are parents and 40 percent are low-income.
“It is critical that federal student aid be responsive to the needs of adults who often must juggle work, family and school responsibilities and who are on their own financially,” the report states.
Cutting Pell Grants and other forms of student aid will harm nontraditional students and “significantly undermine the nation’s ability to meet the demands for increasing skills and credentials,” the report argues.