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PIlot Program Offers High School Students Pell Grants

By Siqi Liu and Ifeoluwa T. Obayan, Contributing Writers

UPDATED: November 10, 2015, at 4:44 p.m.

A new pilot program from the U.S. Department of Education will make $20 million in Pell Grants available for high school students dually enrolled in college courses.

The program could affect nearly 10,000 low-income high school students.

The pilot is experimental “for institutions that already have an arrangement that permits public secondary school students to enroll in a title-IV eligible postsecondary program,” according to Carol M. Stuckey, the executive director of strategic growth initiatives at Harvard’s Division of Continuing Education.

The Harvard Extension School, which offers more than 700 courses to non-traditional students, does not currently have such an arrangement, according to Stuckey. But some students and teaching staff familiar with the Extension School’s offerings praised its ability to prepare high school students for college academics.

Robert Winters, a multivariable calculus lecturer at the Extension School, said the high school students he has taught there often do well with the college-level material that dual enrollment allows them to access.

“Most of the high school students are actually the best and brightest,” Winters said. “It’s a privilege to be able to teach students like that.”

He added that the new pilot program can only help make an affordable college education more accessible for students.

Mayukha Karnam ’19, who took multivariable calculus at the Extension School before enrolling at the College, said dual enrollment gave her and other high school students an opportunity to engage with college material in a way that they could not do in their high school courses.

Echoing Karnam’s sentiment, Daniel M. Kim ’19, who enrolled in the same course, said, “It did a good job not only introducing me to the topic, but also getting me ready for that type of rigor…. It’s a good way to be introduced to college itself. What you’re getting from it is a lot more than just the education.”

Graduate School of Education professor S. Paul Reville said he thinks the new federal program is a great opportunity, particularly for low-income students who would not have access to dual enrollment otherwise.

“Relatively few students get to participate in this kind of program,” he said. “The chief obstacle is finances.”

According to Reville, dual enrollment programs across the U.S. have generally been successful. He said they have been effective in helping students get ready for college and maintaining students’ interest in completing high school.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

CORRECTION: November 10, 2015

An earlier version of this article and its headline incorrectly suggested that the new U.S. Department of Education pilot Pell Grant extension program could affect the Harvard Extension School. While some high school students are dually enrolled there, the school is not a participant in the pilot program.

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