The Federal Government Could Do More to Help Finance Short-Term Occupational Preparation

Fact Sheet

The Federal Government Could Do More to Help Finance Short-Term Occupational Preparation

March 4, 2021

Abstract

The federal student aid system has emerged as the primary source of funding for students pursuing a wide range of subbaccalaureate credentials. But the eligibility rules for federal student aid, offered under Title IV of the Higher Education Act, require a minimum program length of 600 hours for Pell grants, despite little evidence showing that short programs meeting the current benchmark produce better labor-market outcomes than those that do not.

In this fact sheet, we review the evidence on the labor market returns on certificate programs and evaluate the justification for the current restrictions on eligibility for federal student aid. More details are available in the full report.

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