Pell Grant changes aim to help students graduate on time

Daniel Hale

President Barack Obama proposed some changes to the Federal Pell Grant to help students complete their degrees in a more timely fashion.  

The proposal, called the Pell for Accelerated Completion, would mean students could apply the grant to summer semesters, rather than just the fall and spring, said Mark Evans, director of Kent State’s Student Financial Aid.

“There’s discussions on … letting students use the Pell Grant year-round,” Evans said. “The feature was available several years ago, and it lasted about two years.”

This year-round Pell Grant ended in the summer of 2011 due to cuts in the federal budget.

“It costs (the government) money in terms of letting a student accelerate the use of their Pell Grant,” Evans said. 

The other provision proposed is the On-Track Pell Bonus, which is an incentive-laden bonus for students who take more credit hours.

“If a student is taking 15 or more credit hours (per semester), they would get an extra $300 in the Pell Grant,” said Anissa Strickland, senior associate director of Student Financial Aid.

At Kent State, more than 80 percent of students receive financial aid.

If Congress chooses to pass these proposals, it would create $2 billion in Pell Grants for students during the 2017 fiscal year, Strickland said.

“There’s some indication that it’s got some momentum … but it’s not through the process,” Strickland said. “Nothing is definitive yet.”

Amy Marsh, a freshman exploratory major, said she sees the benefit of these measures.

“Having more time in the summer would be helpful, just so I could keep going and graduate on time,” Marsh said.

Daniel Hale is a student finance reporter for The Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].