GW fails to meet college achievement group’s Pell Grant enrollment benchmarks

The University is getting some tough love for its efforts to make a GW degree affordable.

The University landed on a public policy group’s “tough love” list this week for failing to enroll 17 percent of freshmen on Pell grants in 2011 or 2012. The Education Trust suggested that colleges who fail to meet the threshold should face federal funding cuts if they do not improve after three or four years, the Chronicle of Higher Education reported.

The group’s study comes as the White House prepares to roll out a rating system for all universities to spur improvements in financial aid and graduation rates.

“Goals without consequences won’t get the job done. Having real consequences for under-performing institutions that fail to meet those benchmarks helps ensure that our higher education system is serving students and the public good,” the study concludes.

Eight of the 14 universities GW considers its peers also landed on the list, including American, Georgetown, Duke and Northwestern universities.

At GW, 13 percent of freshmen received Pell Grants in 2011 and 12 percent in 2012, according to the group’s data, up from 9 percent in 2008. About 14 percent of GW students received aid from the federal program this year.

Associate Vice President for Financial Assistance Dan Small and Senior Associate Provost for Enrollment Management Laurie Koehler did not immediately return requests for comment.

The maximum Pell Grant award given during the 2013-14 academic year was $5,635, according the Department of Education.

After President Obama declared a “year of action” on college affordability in January, University President Steven Knapp launched a task force to focus on college access and success, making plans to send admissions staff to public D.C. high schools and host workshops on essay writing and applications.

The University’s financial aid pool grew by 3.6 percent to about $170 million for next year, though experts have questioned whether that is enough to make up for standard tuition increases.

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