Do Pell Grants increase dual enrollment for low-income students?

July 07, 2022

In the fall of 2016, the office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) launched a set of pilot programs to assess potential expansions of federal financial aid. One of these programs allowed participating colleges to award Pell Grants to eligible high school students concurrently pursuing college coursework. This program, set to end in summer 2022, was established to increase access to dual enrollment and subsequent college attendance for students of low-income families.

In a recent article published in Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis (EEPA), we show that this program not only failed to increase low-income students’ access to dual enrollment but may have actually decreased access. Despite the good intentions behind the program, it created new barriers to dual enrollment for colleges and families. These unintended consequences offer important lessons for policymaking.