Today’s Adult Students

Today’s Students—Adult Students

The image of today’s students no longer fits the image from decades ago. Today’s students aren’t just fresh-faced 18-year-old teenagers who recently graduated from high school. In fact, 37 percent of today’s students are older than 25.

Many adult students have different responsibilities—including work and family—on their path to a degree or credential. Sixty-four percent of students work either full-time or part-time. One quarter of students are parents, and 49 percent are financially independent.

With different responsibilities, adult students need policies that cater directly to their needs.

Policy Recommendations for Adult Students 

SAP should be reset for students who have not been enrolled in any postsecondary education in the prior five years. To remain eligible after such a reset, students should be required to prospectively maintain a 2.0 GPA and complete 2/3 of credits attempted.

Pell LEU should be reset for students who have reached the maximum amount of Pell Grants, already hold a degree or credential, and have been employed in the workforce for the majority of the past ten years. A student who receives a Pell LEU reset will only remain eligible for Pell Grants for a maximum of four additional semesters’ worth of credits.

Amend the EFC in the Higher Education Act to allow more accurate and generous exemptions for independent students and student parents. In addition, certain assets of independent students should not be included in EFC calculations, such as assets in 529 plans when students are also saving for their dependent’s college education. Lastly, today’s students should have the ability to easily appeal their EFC to have it reconsidered.

Learn more about Higher Learning Advocacy’s policy recommendations here.

Policies for Today’s Students:

A student’s expected family contribution (EFC) directly impacts whether they are eligible for a Pell Grant, how much aid they may be awarded, and whether an undergraduate student may be eligible for a subsidized student loan.

Policies for Today’s Students:
SAP Reset

Many of today’s adult students face obstacles re-enrolling and receiving student aid due to a federal requirement called Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP).

Policies for Today’s Students:
Pell LEU

Federal law limits the amount of Pell Grant funds students can receive over their lifetime to the equivalent of six academic years of Pell Grant funding—also known as your Pell Lifetime Eligibility Usage (LEU).

Featured Resources

  • Higher Learning Advocates’ Statement Regarding Secretary of Education Nominee

    WASHINGTON (December 22, 2020) — Higher Learning Advocates congratulates Miguel Cardona, President-elect Biden’s nominee for Secretary of Education in…

  • 2020 & HLA: Fighting for Today’s Students

    2020 has been quite a year. Today’s students were faced with challenges like never before when campus closed due…

  • 101: Distance Education

    Today's students—who are more diverse in age, race, and income than any previous generation—are more likely to be older,…

  • Inside Higher Ed: Low-Income Community College Students Most Likely to Cancel Plans

    Julie Peller, executive director of Higher Learning Advocates, said, "It just puts data behind what we all know: lower-income,…