Without the year-round Pell Grant, which was cut from the federal budget in 2011 in a bipartisan compromise, summer enrollments are down at many community colleges, reports Inside Higher Ed. College leaders fear graduation rates will fall too.
President Obama suggested ending the program, which had spiraled to $8 billion in three years, to save the maximum grant of $5,550. The administration said there was no evidence offering summer grants had raised graduation rates.
With many low-income students, community colleges are especially worried about the effect of losing year-round Pell Grants.
At Cuyahoga Community College, students have opted to work in the summer rather than stretch their Pell Grant across an additional few months of classes, says Belinda Miles, the college’s provost, who adds that about 850 students were affected by the change. She worries that students who opt not to attend in the summer will take longer to finish college.
“We administrators like to think of summer as a third full semester as opposed to a break,” Miles said.
At Quinsigamond Community College, in Worcester, Mass., summer enrollment dropped by 5 percent this year after five years of increases.