Study Should Help Defense of Funding for Remedial Higher Education

Article excerpt

A new congressionally mandated study may blunt the efforts of critics who want to end federal financial aid to students in remedial education.

No more than 4 percent of federal financial aid given to freshmen and sophomores goes toward remedial coursework, said the new report from the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) which conducts research at the request of Congress.

Only 6 percent of freshmen and sophomores at 430 schools surveyed receive both federal financial aid and remedial courses, the GAO reported. Such remedial courses generally are designed to help students raise math, reading and writing skills to levels they were expected to attain in high school.

Many critics have sought to eliminate federal financial aid for students enrolled in remedial coursework as a way to free up more federal funds for financial aid. But the GAO said its survey responses "raise questions about some preconceived notions about the relationship between college remediation and financial aid.

"Though not definitive of the national picture, relatively few financial aid dollars were associated with college remediation at the schools responding to our survey," the GAO added.

Based on these results, ending federal aid for remedial courses may not represent a "meaningful" opportunity to better target federal funds, the report said.

While the study showed the federal government is not a major funder of remedial coursework, the GAO nonetheless found that students of color represent a high share of remedial course enrollments. …

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