Pell Grants are nearly invisible, even to the needy students who receive them, writes Sara Goldrick-Rab on Scholars Strategy Network. As a result, the program doesn’t get the respect and support it deserves.
In a study of Pell recipients in Wisconsin, her research team found 80 percent of recipients knew the the grant’s name, but not how Pell was funded or what it meant. America should improve “the clarity and moral force of the messages we send to the needy college students helped by federal grants,” Goldrick-Rab writes.
Here is an easy way to make the Pell Grant more than just a check to be cashed or a line item in a bigger financial aid package: Have the President of the United States send an annual letter to each and every Pell recipient – explaining that the Pell program represents the investment of America’s taxpayers in the student’s college education, made possible because families across the country worked hard in their jobs and paid taxes to make sure all young people who are prepared can have a fair shot at achieving a college education. The Pell Grant, the letter should spell out, promises continuing support in return for “your” continued hard work and good faith effort to complete college.
Many Americans would approve telling grant recipients that they’re expected to give their country a return on the investment, she writes.