Restrictions on pell grant affect college campuses nationwide

Meghan Johnson

Restrictions added to the Pell Grant in fall 2012 will have an effect on rural area colleges, specifically community colleges.

One restriction includes changes to the Estimated Family Contribution income levels. The maximum level was changed by Congress from $32,000 to $23,000.

If students pass this first restriction, they are allowed to receive the grant for 12 semesters. After the first 12 semesters, the second restriction is applied, and students are not rewarded the grant for rest of their schooling.

The third restriction is related to schools that offer certificate programs or short-term training for immediate employment. Before the restrictions, a person wasn’t required to have received a diploma or even a GED to receive the grant. After the new restrictions, that is not the case.

Janice Friedel, associate professor in the school of education, Steve Katsinas from the University of Alabama and Ed Davis from Mississippi State University participated in research regarding the Pell Grant and on February 12-13 went to Washington D.C. to speak with policymakers.

In D.C., Friedel, Katsinas and Davis presented the results from their research and survey to the White House Rural Council and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development program officers.

Friedel concluded results from the research by saying, “Yes, indeed, there was a decreased number in students who received the Pell Grant at their institutions, and their enrollments dropped.”

She went on to say, “They [the institutions] believe that those changes in eligibility was having a negative affect on access to the Pell Grant.”

Friedel’s research was centered mainly on community colleges.

Even though Friedel is an associate professor at Iowa State, her research involving community colleges is reasonable.

Before coming to Iowa State, Friedel has had 28 years of experience in community colleges in Iowa and Kentucky and is very passionate about the well-being of students and community colleges.

Regarding Iowa State, Friedel explained the relation by saying, “It could affect Iowa State because the students who are on Pell are the students who are financially most in need. If they restrict the eligibility for Pell, it could have an impact on students who are most in need having an opportunity to come to Iowa State.”

Another way in which ISU students could be affected by this change is related to part-time students.

Chad Olson, program coordinator at the ISU financial aid office, said, “If they’re taking longer, they might run out of Pell Grant before they have completed their degree.”

The restrictions on the Pell Grant will affect colleges nationwide.

Even more importantly, these restrictions will have a huge impact on college students nationwide.

In regards to Iowa State, Olson concluded, “Any time you limit financial aid, it is going to hurt a population of students.”