- Students who attended now-closed institutions will be eligible to continue receiving federal Pell grants to continue their education at other schools, the U.S. Department of Education announced Monday.
- Those who began their education careers at schools like ITT Tech and others that were wiped out due to heightened scrutiny over predatory institutions under the Obama administration will have the semesters completed at those schools removed from their records for the purposes of federal financial aid, thus restoring their full Pell eligibility.
- The move had bipartisan support and will impact more than 40,000 students, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The move by the Education Department is an important first step toward continuing to promote access to higher education, particularly for non-traditional students. But this does not automatically guarantee these students will rush to enroll in more traditional institutions. Many will have to start their educational pursuit completely from scratch, because most institutions don't accept credits earned at for-profit institutions. Leaders of colleges and universities around the country hoping to attract these students to campus will need to consider the things that make for-profit education attractive to begin with: vast online offerings — often, entire degree programs available online — and flexibility to take classes at students' own pace while they often study around work and family obligations.
Also worth considering is that since Pell grants are only given to full-time enrollees, adult students who can't afford to take off during the day to come to campus to complete 12-credit-hour semesters may also not be able to take advantage of the reversal if their programs are not available online. Savvy institution leaders may want to consider arrangements to allow for some experiential or elective credit for some of the coursework completed, and be sure to articulate clear and concise pathways to graduation for students who may be dismayed by the prospect of having to start anew. Partnerships like those emerging between bootcamp companies and other online course providers to help promote flexibility for these students is also key.