By, Alexis Figueroa |Staff Writer|
Students who count on the Federal Pell Grant for financial support for college will be affected during the 2012-2013 academic session with Congress cutting back on the program.
Federal Pell Grants are the leading government assistance tool for students who are in need of financial assistance for tuition costs.
The difference with any other financial aid program out there is that Pell Grand does not have to be repaid according to the U.S. Department of Education’s website.
Pell Grants are limited to undergraduate students who have not earned a bachelor’s or a professional degree; in some cases a student enrolled in a post-baccalaureate teacher certification program might receive a Pell Grant, according to StudentAid.ed.gov.
According to the CSUSB website, Pell Grant eligibility also cites the importance of maintaining satisfactory academic progress. The annual amounts range from $555 to $5,550 for the 2011–2012 academic year, according to CSUSB’s Financial Aid Office website.
“The amount given to students are determined based on the student’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC), the cost of education and the student’s enrollment status, all undergraduate students automatically apply for this grant by submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA),” according to CSUSB’s Financial Aid Office website.
Instead of funding a student for 18 semesters, the Pell Grant program was cut to 12 semesters. If a student hits the maximum amount, they will not be eligible to receive the $5,550 for college, according to the FAFSA website.
Pell Grants are also applicable to those students whose parents have passed away while serving in the military. These students will receive the maximum annual award but must be under 24 years old.
With the current state of the economy, college campuses and students will continue to be affected. CSUSB student Ashley Ramirez understands to an extent why Congress has implemented change.
“On one hand I get why Congress would want to cut back on the grant program since it is money that doesn’t have to be paid back,” said Ramirez. “It is a lot of money that is given to a lot of students but I do not understand why students continue to pay the price, I mean tuition for us next year is already going up 9.1 percent.”
Roseanna Ruiz, director of the financial aid department for CSUSB, expressed the impact this will have on CSUSB.
“Eighty-two percent of the population here at CSUSB receives some type of financial aid. All types of financial aid cuts affect our students in completing their educational goals,” said Ruiz. “CSUSB students need to seriously assess their financial future when weighing indebtedness versus their educational costs.”
Ruiz notes that there are other federal and state federal aid programs that students may still remain eligible to receive.
The programs include: Cal Grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, Federal Work Study, Federal Direct Loans, Alternative Loans and university and private scholarships.
“Students are strongly encouraged to become more familiar and versed on the different grant and loan programs available from private and public sources,” said Ruiz.
“Competition for these funds will continue to increase dramatically and CSUSB students need to be diligent in their pursuit of these funds, students must file the FAFSA to apply for funding each academic year,” continued Ruiz.