The Rise and Fall of Need-Based Grants: A Critical Review of Presidential Discourses on Higher Education, 1964–1984

  • Julie Renee Posselt
Part of the Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research book series (HATR, volume 24)

Abstract

Recent economic histories by Benjamin Friedman and Robert Fogel argue that America’s economic future depends on a return to policy of the 1970s, including a major reinvestment in Pell Grants, which have steadily declined as a proportion of total financial aid spending since 1978. To evaluate the adequacy of purely economic rationales for reinvesting in grants today, this review uses historiography and discourse analysis of US presidential speeches to critically review rationales for student aid policy between 1964 and 1984. Along with economic arguments based on human capital theory, presidents’ rationales for aid spending were grounded in leaders’ political ideologies and views of equity and excellence as desired sociopolitical ends of education. Economic arguments themselves varied to alternately emphasize individual and national returns on investment. More importantly for contemporary debates about a renewed federal role in supporting college opportunities, these rationales were combined in various ways throughout the period, suggesting the need today for multidimensional and balanced arguments that are relevant to the present social, economic, and political contexts.

Keywords

Migration Petroleum Mold Income Coherence 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Julie Renee Posselt
    • 1
  1. 1.Study of Higher and Postsecondary EducationUniversity of MichiganUSA

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