ERIC Number: ED482222
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2003-Sep
Reference Count: N/A
Federal Student Aid: Expanding Eligibility for Less Than Halftime Students Could Increase Program Costs, but Benefits Uncertain. Report to Congressional Requesters.
Ashby, Cornelia M.
Concerns have been raised that adult undergraduates, those 24 and older, receive inadequate assistance in meeting the costs of postsecondary education, especially those who take one to five credits per term, or less than halftime. Less-than-halftime students are not eligible for the Stafford loan programs and are eligible to receive only one of the two federal higher education tax credits. In response to a Congressional inquiry, the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) was asked to identify the extent to which adults enroll less than halftime, the extent to which such students receive federal, state, and other assistance, and the implications of changing the Pell Grant Program to allow less-than-halftime students to count room and board costs and personal expenses in their applications for financial aid and changing the Stafford loan programs to allow their participation. GAO found that in the 1999-2000 school year, 2.3 million adults enrolled in undergraduate education on a less-than-halftime basis. Three of four such students expect to complete a degree or certificate program, but most leave school without completing one. About 70% of less-than-halftime students received some assistance, about 44% of their schooling costs, typically from sources other than state and federal aid. The GAO estimated, using data from various sources, that proposed changes to the Pell Grant system would cost the federal government a minimum of $25 million for the 2003-2004 school year. Allowing less-than-halftime students to participate in Stafford loans would cost about $113 million per year. College administrators expressed reservations about expanding Stafford Loan eligibility because of concerns about increasing default rates. Costs of expanding these programs may outweigh their potential benefits. Five appendixes contain supplemental and background information. (Contains 32 tables.) (SLD)
Descriptors: Adult Students, College Students, Eligibility, Federal Aid, Higher Education, Part Time Students, Student Loan Programs
U.S. General Accounting Office, 441 G Street NW, Room LM, Washington, DC 20548 ($2; Orders for 100 or more copies discounted by 25%). Tel: 202-512-6000; Fax: 202-512-6061. For full text: http://www.gao.gov.
Publication Type: Legal/Legislative/Regulatory Materials; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: General Accounting Office, Washington, DC.
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Pell Grant Program; Stafford Student Loan Program