Welcome Back, Pell Grant

Money for college is a legitimate concern for millions of families across the country. While many students rely on private and educational loans that must be repaid upon graduation to go to college, thousands of students receive financial aid assistance from the government that does not require repayment. Financial aid assistance is given to students based on the needs and incomes of themselves or their families, and students can qualify for the minimum to the maximum amounts based on need. Many requirements must be met in order for students to continue to be awarded financial assistance such as grades, attendance, class load, and financial status. Additionally, students must demonstrate financial need and cannot receive aid from more than one school at a time.

Recently, the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee shared a spending package that would fill a 5.7 billion need in the Pell Grant program, as stated in The Chronicle of Higher Education. The Pell Grant, which is a federal grant sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education, awards students that are eligible for financial aid, money for tuition and books and does not require repayment. Without the spending package, the maximum amount given to students under the Pell Grant would be decreased by as much as 15%. With tuition and enrollment rates continuing to rise each year, Pell Grants continue to not cover as many credit hours as they used to.

Filling in the deficit to close the gap in the Pell Grant would likely eliminate the Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership program, also known as the LEAP program, which serves as a matching program for needy students. Specifically, the program provides grants to states in order to assist the students in their schools, with need-based grants and work-study assistance. The aid is only given to students that are eligible and that qualify for assistance. The program would likely be eliminated because of it’s similarity to other aid programs, and the current administration is not guaranteeing to continue to finance the program.

The bill is aimed at substituting other bills and will cover spending for the 2011 fiscal year. It would not allot money to other programs, but would raise spending by 750 million on the National Institutes of Health. The maximum allotted amount for Pell Grant recipients this year through next was $5,550, which would be dropped to $4,705 without the bill. The 2012 school year maximum Pell Grant award will be based on annual increases in the Consumer Price Index, which measures the price of services, goods, and costs of living.

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