More Americans are going back to school, and more students than ever are qualifying for Pell Grants, the primary federal grant program that provides funding for low- and moderate-income students.
Recent studies released by the College Board found that a record 9.4 million students — 37 percent of all those in higher education — received a Pell Grant in the 2011-12 academic year. Compare that to 2.7 million students how received a Pell Grant in the 1981-1982 academic year.
A number of federal laws include programs and supports that help people across the country to learn skills needed to find jobs and advance in careers. Among them is the Higher Education Act, which is due to be reauthorized by Congress next year. Regardless of the outcome of next week’s election, the new 113th Congress is likely to likely look for ways to restructure the Pell Grant program.
How Goodwill Puts Pell Grants to Good Work
As Goodwill® works to help the people it serves to not only find jobs, but to advance in careers, Pell Grants – which increase access to training and education that lead to high-growth and good paying jobs – are becoming increasingly important to our efforts.
For many years, employers have continued to complain about the difficulty in finding workers who have the skills needed to fill available positions. In response, Goodwill launched the Community College/Career Collaboration (C4) to enhance local agencies’ collaboration with community colleges.
Under C4, local Goodwill agencies and community colleges are combining their assets and resources to provide easy access to education, job training and other supportive services to individuals who lack a college or career credential. As a result, the importance of Pell Grants has increased dramatically for Goodwill since C4 was launched in 2009.
Enhanced partnerships between local Goodwill agencies and community colleges help people like Tyrone Coleman, who turned to Goodwill of Central Arizona for help after being unemployed for nearly two years.
“Even though I was a college graduate, my skill set was outdated,” says Tyrone. He was assessed by Goodwill, which helped him to leverage resources like Pell Grants, to pursue a number of industry-recognized IT certifications. “I am thankful for the community program at Goodwill and the services they offered me. Goodwill was able to keep my foundation and family strong,” he says.
Goodwill looks forward to continuing its work with the new Congress toward enacting improvements that a create a cohesive and broad workforce system that leverages the unique strengths and resources that numerous systems, including community colleges and community-based organizations (like Goodwill) bring to the table.