Colleges, Nonprofits Seek To Fill Void Created By PPL Shift

Career College Central summary:

  • When the U. S. Department of Education began tightening credit requirements in October 2011 for parents seeking loans through its popular Parent PLUS Loan program, college and university officials and thousands of students across the nation were caught off guard and unprepared for the troubles ahead. Over the next two years the higher education community began to feel the full impact of the new rules. HBCUs, other tuition-dependent institutions and those serving low- and moderate-income students were hit hardest. Millions of dollars, built into 2013-14 year budgets, were not coming in as planned, and thousands of students learned their parents had been denied funds. Students suddenly found themselves unable to register for the school year.
  • In an attempt to recoup their financial losses, presidents of colleges and alumni associations turned to alumni and friendly donors. Those like Joyce and Thomas Moorehead in Northern Virginia — HBCU graduates who are regular donors to higher education — responded to the urgent calls to help keep as many students in school as possible. Their extra effort alone helped keep 11 students in college.
  • “We were really trying to reach that kid who would fall between the cracks [due to] a few dollars,” says Joyce Moorehead, a veteran attorney and partner with her husband in the Joyce and Thomas Moorehead Foundation. The average gift was about $1,200, she notes.
  • Many university leaders pointed out that some students needed only several hundred dollars to keep their college dreams alive. In exploring the urgent calls for last-minute help, universities were able to identify such students with minimal effort, notes Thomas Moorehead, an automobile executive. Universities say responses from the Mooreheads and other donors helped to lower the number of students cut from enrollment lists for lack of funds.
  • In early September, Tennessee State University announced it was able to quickly raise close to $500,000 to assist more than 350 students whose families had lost PPL and other financial aid. The contributions from alumni and university friends included $17,000 from TSU students, who used an allocation for campus events to create scholarships. South Carolina State University raised thousands to avoid cutting nearly 400 students affected by PPL aid losses. Howard University encouraged students to appeal PPL decisions, which were largely successful.
  • Still, thousands of students today remain unable to pursue four-year education opportunities. A February update of PPL data from the Department of Education found almost half of the 790,348 public sector applications for PPL aid were initially denied, although most of the group’s appeals were approved.

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