Federal PELL Grant Experiment Extends Financial Aid to High School Students in Dual Enrollment and Early College Programs

Organizations applaud administration’s efforts, encourage high standards in moving forward


In a continued effort to increase federal financial aid for low-income students to access college education, KnowledgeWorks and EDWorks applaud President Obama’s recent announcement of a federal Pell grant experiment for high schools students earning college credit.

This experiment will help identify new approaches to enroll more traditionally-underserved students in Early College High Schools and other dual enrollment programs, which have both been proven to significantly increase chances of college success by providing an effective pathway to college completion.

As the Pell grant experiment moves forward, KnowledgeWorks and EDWorks also encourage the administration to set high standards for participating programs.

“We are pleased that there is growing recognition from policymakers of the importance of financial support for low-income students who are earning college credit throughout their high school experience,” KnowledgeWorks Vice President of Policy and Advocacy Lillian Pace said. “As the U.S. Department of Education works out the details of this experiment, it must ensure that the selected sites are high quality with extensive supports to best benefit students on the path to a college degree.”

EDWorks’ Early College High Schools support students least likely to attend college. Throughout a four-year high school experience, students receive up to 60 hours of college credit – the equivalent of an associate’s degree – before graduation, while learning in a supportive environment with high expectations.

This model has been field tested in 50 school districts across eight states. Based on information in the Jobs for the Future Annual Survey, 79 percent of students in EDWorks Early College High Schools complete at least one year of college credit before graduating from high school. In addition, one in three earns an associate’s degree or 60 hours of transferrable college credit.

“At EDWorks schools, our students develop the skills that will be critical for them to succeed in their future academic and professional endeavors,” EDWorks President Harold Brown said. “These students deserve this support and recognition for the hard work and diligence they put in to their Early College High School experiences. We encourage the administration to expand this experiment to high-quality programs that give high school students the opportunity to earn 60 hours of college credit before graduation.”

KnowledgeWorks and EDWorks join in this support with partner organizations who are working to expand Early College High Schools and dual enrollment options, including Bard College, Jobs for the Future, Middle College National Consortium and the Ohio Early College Association. These partners work closely with more than 10,400 Early College High Schools, dual and concurrent enrollment programs and postsecondary partners across the country.

About KnowledgeWorks

KnowledgeWorks is a national nonprofit organization advancing a future of learning that ensures each student graduates ready for what’s next. For 20 years, we’ve been partnering with states, communities and leaders across the country to imagine, build and sustain vibrant learning communities. Through evidence-based practices and a commitment to equitable outcomes, we’re creating the future of learning, together.  www.knowledgeworks.org