But to understand the problem with Hawley’s proposal, you need to understand the kind of students Pell Grants aid.

Many of these students are the first generation of their family to attend higher education. And many of them end up at schools that have little to no resources to aid students who struggle with college. Even so, of the 7.5 million students who get Pell Grants, about half graduate in six years—which is only 10 percent less than the national gradation average, according to a study by the Hechinger Report.

Why does Hawley want to push these students away from traditional higher education?

It can’t be a question of “workplace skill training.” Because trade schools—also known as two-year technical schools—already qualify for Pell Grants. Even the disastrous money pits known as “for-profit” schools can get Pell funding.

The short answer is: It’s about politics.

As Nietzel says, “Hawley wants to equate higher education with four-year schools because he knows his conservative base is more likely to view them with disdain and suspicion.”