"Evangelical Liberty University received half a billion dollars in federal aid money: One conservative college got more government cash than NPR last year."
That's the misleading headline for Alex Pareene's April 5 War Room blog post at Salon.com.
Adding insult to inaccuracy, Pareene slandered the late Jerry Falwell -- without a link to corroborating evidence -- as an apartheid supporter and bigot (h/t Matt Cover):
Liberty University, the evangelical private Christian school founded by dead apartheid-supporting bigot Jerry Falwell, received $445 million in federal financial aid last year. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, by the way, received $420 million from the federal government.
That massive sum was thanks to the growth of Liberty's online program, which enrolled 52,000 students last year. The school is the No. 1 recipient of Pell grant money in the state of Virginia. While it may seem like the federal government is basically subsidizing this formerly financially challenged ultra-conservative religious private school, LU's executive director of financial aid sees it differently
But Liberty doesn't receive that $445 million as a lump sum to play with as it chooses. It receives that money in trust to disburse to students receiving the grants. Pell grants are, in effect, vouchers for undergraduate education expenses.
From the Department of Education's website (emphasis mine):
The Federal Pell Grant Program provides need-based grants to low-income undergraduate and certain postbaccalaureate students to promote access to postsecondary education. Students may use their grants at any one of approximately 5,400 participating postsecondary institutions. Grant amounts are dependent on: the student's expected family contribution (EFC) (see below); the cost of attendance (as determined by the institution); the student's enrollment status (full-time or part-time); and whether the student attends for a full academic year or less.
Federal Pell Grants are direct grants awarded through participating institutions to students with financial need who have not received their first bachelor's degree or who are enrolled in certain postbaccalaureate programs that lead to teacher certification or licensure. Participating institutions either credit the Federal Pell Grant funds to the student's school account, pay the student directly (usually by check) or combine these methods. Students must be paid at least once per term (semester, trimester, or quarter); schools that do not use formally defined terms must pay the student at least twice per academic year.
At best, Pareene is intellectually lazy -- this information is readily available online -- or dishonest. At worst, he's deliberately lying to his readers in an effort to gin up a left-wing talking point in defense of the federal funding of public broadcasting.
Fortunately for Pareene, the faculty and students of Liberty will probably be inclined to pray for him, rather than return evil for evil and insult for insult.