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College leaders call the exclusion of virtual programs a mistake. Photo: Louis Velazquez

Congress excludes Pell grants for online education

Working adults continue to face a range of barriers when trying to access traditional model education. Pell grants are an option, but not for virtual school.

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Time is approaching for congressional leaders to finalize the legislation to expand Pell Grant eligibility for students enrolled in short-term programs.

The bill passed the Senate last year, but without an amendment that examines and expands the language used, many students are left without financial coverage.

College leaders called the exclusion of online-only programs a mistake that would affect working adults trying to attend school while meeting financial and family obligations.

Educators wrote in a letter that “the language excluding online programs is a penalty, not a protection, for those learners for whom online programs are their only access point to education and training,” as reported by Higher ED Dive.

Lawmakers continue to advocate for changes in the bill’s language and for inclusion of shorter-term programs that result in an industry credential to receive Pell.

According to Higher ED Dive, “given the concerns about racial and gender inequities in short-term programs, however, some policy experts are worried that allowing them to be eligible for Pell Grants will harm students.”

However, many still have reservations about online programs, and their legitimacy and ability to offer high quality education.

Working adults continue to face a range of barriers when trying to access traditional model education. The obligations working adults have, make it impossible to follow a traditional education format because of the ever changing challenges. During the pandemic and even post-pandemic, many students found online learning convenient.

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