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Pell Grants: Department of Education Discusses New System of Records to Evaluate Impact of Two Experimental Expansions to Eligibility Criteria
Jan 10, 2013
The Department of Education today has announced a new system of records: Evaluation of the Pell Grant Experiments under the Experimental Sites Initiative - 2012.

The system will contain records on approximately 10,800 students from approximately 51 participating institutions of higher education.

This system of records will become effective at the later date of: (1) The expiration of the 40-day period for Office of Management and Budget (OMB) review on February 12, 2013, unless OMB waives 10 days of the 40-day review period for compelling reasons shown by the Department, or (2) February 7, 2013, unless the system of records needs to be changed as a result of public comment or OMB review.

The information contained in the records maintained in this system will support an evaluation of the impacts of two different experimental expansions to the Pell Grant eligibility criteria. The first experiment expands eligibility for Pell Grants to income-eligible students who already possess a bachelor's degree and who enroll in occupational training, while the second experiment expands eligibility for Pell Grants to students who enroll in occupational programs that have a shorter duration than allowable under current rules. Both experiments are being implemented under the Experimental Sites Initiative (ESI), authorized by section 487A(b) of the HEA. The study will compare students with expanded access to Pell Grants to similar students who will not have access in order to assess the effects of expanded Pell Grant access on educational attainment, employment, and earnings.

The study will provide credible and reliable information to help guide future policy decisions in the area of Federal financial aid. The central research questions that the study will address are:

  • What is the impact of expanding Pell Grant eligibility on employment and earnings? The ultimate goal of the study is to determine if providing Pell Grants for those with a bachelor's degree and for relatively short-term job training affects participants' job prospects and income levels.

  • Does it improve access to occupational training? Understanding whether the experiments made a difference in training enrollments will help in interpreting the presence or lack of earnings impacts.
  • How does it affect financial aid receipt and student debt? With student debt loads being an increasing public policy concern, expansions in Pell Grant eligibility are intended to reduce reliance on loans that may carry high interest levels. The study will examine the impacts of the experiments on the types and amounts of financial aid students receive and on their expenditures for education and training. Comments are due by February 7, 2013.

    Click here for the January 8, 2013 FEDERAL REGISTER notice.