A student aid bill, aimed at changing the way student loan programs operate, should reach the Oval Office by the end of this month.
It has already been passed by the House of Representatives and is currently on its way to the Senate.
The bill was passed by the House of Representatives on Sept. 17 and, if approved, will allocate $40 billion dollars over a ten year period of time toward increasing the maximum Pell Grant.
The Federal Pell Grant Program provides need-based grants to low-income students for postsecondary education. There are 5,400 participating post-secondary institutions involved with the program, including CU, according to the U.S. Department of Education Web site.
Some students have said they are pleased to hear about the bill.
“I hope the bill passes,” said Haley Haertl, a 19-year-old sophomore sociology major. “Everyone should have an equal opportunity at receiving an education.”
Griffin Miller, a 19-year-old sophomore political science major, expressed a similar reaction.
“I think this bill is awesome,” Miller said. “Money shouldn’t determine one’s education. A person’s will and hard work should outweigh tuition cost.”
Miller emphasized the importance of the student-aid bill based on the significance of education.
“Knowledge is power,” Miller said. “The more college graduates the U.S. can produce, the better off we’ll be for the future.”
The aid the Pell Grant Program will provide is dependent upon a student’s expected family contribution, the cost of attendance, a student’s enrollment status and whether the student attends for a full academic year or less.
The maximum Pell Grant in 2009 is $5,350. The student aid bill would increase the amount to $5,550 in 2010 and $6,900 in 2011. In addition, it would keep interest rates low on subsidized federal student loans, according to the Inside Higher Ed Web site.
There are approximately 3,909 Pell Grant recipients at CU for the fall 2009 semester, according to Ofelia Morales, associate director of the CU Financial Aid Office.
Morales said these numbers are not final at the present time, but some CU Pell Grant recipients will likely be affected by the student aid bill should it go into effect.
“The bill talks about changing the formula of the Pell Grant. Families with an income of $150,000 and over would no longer qualify for the Pell grant,” Morales said. “[A total of] 3.3 percent of current Pell Grant recipients at CU would no longer qualify if the bill passes. However, the Pell Grant qualifying changes wouldn’t go into effect until July 2011.”
Both Miller and Jaclyn Ackerman, a 19-year-old sophomore ecology and evolutionary biology major, expressed disappointment at the fact that the bill would not benefit students who don’t qualify for financial aid.
“The amount of money is impressive, but it’s a shame that many people won’t reap any benefits,” Miller said.
Ackerman pointed out the issue of the overall cost of higher education.
“It would be nice if the bill could lower the overall cost of post-secondary tuition,” Ackerman said.
In addition to increasing the maximum Pell Grant, the bill aims to allocate funds towards improving community colleges and early childhood education, as well as repairing school and college facilities.
The previously mentioned Inside Higher Ed Web site can be accessed at:
The U.S. Depart of Education Web site can be accessed at: http://www.ed.gov/programs/fpg/index.html
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Kendall Schoemann at Kendall.Schoemann@colorado.edu.