Proposal may limit Pell Grants

Adriane Hardin

Students who receive a Pell Grant may want to check their progress toward graduation.

Their time with the grant may be running out.

President George Bush has proposed a time limit on the number of years students seeking bachelor’s or associate degrees can receive the federal need-based grant.

Students pursuing bachelor’s degrees would be eligible to receive the grant for eight years. Students pursuing associate’s degrees would be eligible for four years.

There is currently no limit to the number of years a part-time or full-time student may receive the grant.

The proposed time limit would be meant to stop abuse of the grant and free up funds for a new program that would award $5,000 grants to students who want to study math or science in college, according to a press release on the White House Web site. The new program would run separately from the Pell Grant program.

Pell Grant award amounts range from a minimum $400 to a maximum of $4,050, said Marilyn Clark, director of financial aid at Western.

Western awarded about $12.5 million in grants to about 6,000 students last year.

The time limit would mostly affect part-time nontraditional students, she said.

Community college students would suffer because of the proposed requirements, said Sherry Reid, interim dean of the community college.

“It is our part-time students who will be disadvantaged by the change, and many of them are extremely good students,” Reid said.

The government should focus on raising the amounts awarded for the Pell Grant instead of putting a time limit on students, said Rich Harpel, director of federal administration for the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges.

He said he believes most students at public universities completing a bachelor’s degree will finish in six years and would not be affected by the time limit. But he said he agrees that part-time students would be affected by the time limit.

The time limit raises concern for John Bradley, president of the Student Government Association.

Bradley said the proposed time limit for those pursuing a bachelor’s and associate’s degree is reasonable, but it may affect those who have to take their college career at a slower pace.

“I think there should be exceptions made for people who have no other choice but to take classes or take their college career at a slow pace,” he said.

Bush announced the proposal on April 6, according to the press release.

Reach Adriane Hardin at [email protected]