‘Pell runner’ losses force tuition hike

With a budget deficit made worse by student abuse of Pell GrantsHenry Ford Community College (Michigan) will raise tuition by 7 percent, reports the Press and Guide. The college will have to pay back $9.5 million in federal dollars — about 20 percent of tuition revenue — because many Pell recipients dropped out or failed all their classes after collecting up to $5,550 in student aid.

Collecting from “Pell runners” — students who stop attending once they get their grant money — rarely is successful, President Gail Mee said after the board meeting.

Trustee Aimee Schoelles asked if the college could see if the students have unpaid tuition bills from other colleges — a sign they are milking the system at one school and then moving to the next.

Mee said a federal registry tracks students who misuse their loans, but the data is too old to be useful.

Schoelles also suggested looking at class data to see where students drop or never attend and then overenrolling those courses so when students withdraw or never show the class is still closer to full.

Looking only at first-time, degree-seeking students, HFCC has the lowest graduation rate — 9 percent — of Michigan’s 18 community colleges; a third of students transfer before earning a degree.