Assessing student-aid programs

In the opinion-page article "Clean Up Federal Student Aid Programs," Nov. 8, the author accurately describes the problems with financial-aid programs. While most acute in for-profit trade schools (proprietary schools), these same problems affect community colleges, adult basic education programs, and English as a second language (ESL) programs.A year and a half ago, I became involved in a state-run program in Connecticut called Job Connection, which is pursuant to the Family Support Act of 1988. It provides benefits such as child care, transportation costs, and car repairs to support student's participation in an education or training program. These benefits, which are in addition to Pell and other grants, may easily total several hundred dollars per month. I have found the program fraught with the ineffectiveness and lack of accountability the author describes. It is a program so confident of its intentions (who can be against providing education or training for those on public assistance?) that it lacks measurements of success, let alone objective assessments of performance. I have found that dropout rates range from 50 percent to 90 percent. Those who do complete programs rarely move on to self-sufficiency - the program's purported goal. Dennis Nakashian, New Hartford, Conn.

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published, subject to condensation, and none acknowledged. Please address them to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115.

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