Monday, November 10, 2008

D.C. Tuition Grant Shortfall

Via DCist, the Examiner has a report that many students who are expecting tuition reimbursement checks will just have to wait. The Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership is a program designed to allow high school graduates in the District of Columbia to get in-state tuition prices on colleges in other states (since D.C. has limited options). Thanks to either confusion or incompetence, though, about 2,500 students are going to be waiting a while for their checks. It sounds like this program has a history of poor management, and might be targeted for one of those line-by-line program cuts in the future.

I have mixed feelings about this program. Certainly kids who attend D.C. certainly encounter a ton of disadvantages, and the lack of quality public universities and affordable private universities in the District is just another one, and with more than 8,000 applicants last year, there’s clearly a demonstrated need for this program. On the other hand, some of those who do well in D.C. public high schools are the kinds of students that would do well anywhere, perhaps because they’re from above a certain income bracket. These students might not need the assistance provided by the LEAP program, but would accept it anyway because the grant is basically free money.

I think ultimately I would support a close evaluation and possible overhaul of the program without cutting it entirely. After all, many of the problems with D.C. high school students has a lot to do with larger problems in K-12 education and inequality.

Cross posted at Pushback.

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