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Part-time students being shortchanged.

Rapid growth in the number and proportion of part-time college students over the last two decades may require an overhaul of the financial aid system, according to a report from the American Council on Education. Despite their increasing presence on the nation's campuses, part-time students are much less likely than their full-time counterparts to receive financial assistance from Federal, state, or institutional sources, even though their needs may be greater.

Although Federal law allows needy students studying part time to receive Pell Grants, the lack of funding in recent years has caused those who enroll for less than half-time to be excluded from the program. In addition, while such students are eligible for Federal campus-based programs, colleges rarely spend their allotments on part-timers. At the state and institutional levels, most aid is restricted to those who elect to study full time.

The characteristics of part-time students suggest that they would benefit greatly from more financial assistance. Many are employed and older than traditional collegians. "In addition to tuition, fees, and books, part-time students--especially adult students --may have higher household expenses, child care costs, as well as the need to make up for lost wages," the report states. The study also found that part-timers had higher average college loan debt than full-time students do ($2,918 vs. $2,671).

The growing number of part-time students requires that institutions better understand how the needs of this group differ from those of full-timers. "Part-time students are concerned about general student services issues such as parking, campus safety, child care, and the availability of courses during weeknights and weekends, etc., while full-time students may be more interested in student associations, extracurricular offerings, and residence hall issues." In addition, part-time students are more likely to be female (59%), especially white women (46%)--by contrast, females make up 52% and white women 40% of full-time students; minorities are more likely than whites to attend college part time; and part-time students are most likely to attend public community colleges
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Title Annotation:less likely to receive financial aid
Publication:USA Today (Magazine)
Date:Aug 1, 1993
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