Financial aid awards rise in numbers, Pell Grant qualifications change

With the start of a new semester many Cosumnes River College students make the inevitable trip to the financial aid office.

“We have actually awarded more students this year to date than the same time last year,” said Financial Aid Supervisor Alice Kwong via email.

As of July 1, 2012, new qualifications for the Federal Pell Grant were officially enacted. The federal law now limits the number of Pell Grants to 12 full-time semesters a student can receive towards their first undergraduate degree or equivalent, which according to the official student aid website.

Students without a high school diploma or GED equivalent will no longer be eligible for student federal aid.In conjunction with the new qualifications, the option of passing approved tests (ATB) or completing at least six college units without a high school diploma or GED will no longer be offered, as stated in the CRC Financial Aid fact sheet.

Many students still have a hard time qualifying for any monetary assistance.

“I understand the government wants to limit the funding to those who really need it,” said 31-year-old biology major Elyssa Hipsher. “But they reduce the amount of people eligible so often they don’t realize they’re actually doing more bad than good.”

Hipsher’s comment sheds light on the most drastic changes to both federal and state student funding. The California Communtiy College Chancellor’s Office announced the administrative change in the calculation of elgibilty for Board of Governor’s Fee Waivers and Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

“The federal methodology or the formula to calculate a student’s eligibility has changed where the family income ceiling to qualify for federal financial aid has lowered; reducing a student’s eligibility,” said Kwong.

Kwong said with the beginning of summer 2012, a student must establish a minimum financial need of $1,104.00 whereas in the prior year a student only needed to demonstrate need of at least $1.00.

However Kwong reassures that if students are having difficulty qualifying for any financial aid there other ways to receive monetary help.

“There are federal student loans where students who have financial need but not for the federal grant can receive a Subsidized Federal Direct Student Loan,” said Kwong. Except Kwong still advises that students should at least try to apply for BOG Fee Waivers and FAFSA.

“All students should apply and apply early,” said Kwong. “The FAFSA and the BOG Fee Waiver processes are free and simple.”