Student Pell Grant Eligibility Takes Hit in U.S. Budget Bill

The federal Pell Grant program for low-to-moderate income college students took a hit with Friday’s House vote on a massive spending bill that includes an attempt to save $11 billion in Pell dollars over the next several years.
The bill reduces the number of semesters a student can qualify for support and additional paperwork may be needed for those eligible. Thousands of students may not be able to finish their degrees
The maximum grant award at $5,550 remains in place, but the maximum number of years the grant can be received would be reduced from nine to six if the bill is approved by the Senate and signed into law by President Obama.
A Pell Grant, unlike a loan, does not have to be repaid. The amount provided depends on a student’s financial need, costs to attend school, status as a full-time or part-time student, and plans to attend school for a full academic year or less.
“These changes to the Pell program erect new barriers to opportunity and prosperity, particularly for many first-generation college aspirants who are working to break the cycle of poverty,” said The Education Trust, an academic achievement advocacy group, in a statement.  “That’s harmful not just to them, but to our struggling economy as well.”
Obama has fought for better terms on student loans. Exercising executive order, the president in October enacted student loan reform for 1.6 million borrowers. The new “Pay As You Earn” plan for college students lowers their monthly loan payments to 10 percent of their discretionary income.  The plan also forgives the balance of their debt after 20 years of payments.

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