Suddenly Ineligible

The House Republicans’ plan to change Pell Grant eligibility would disqualify hundreds of thousands of students in order to preserve the maximum grant at $5,550 for fiscal year 2012. The brunt of those changes would fall on the highest-earning families who are still eligible for Pell Grants — who on average make slightly over $40,000 per year.

From many college associations, the plan has received what amounts to a tepid endorsement: in light of the circumstances, and given the House Republicans’ plan earlier this year to cut up to $2,000 across the board from the maximum grant, it could be worse, they say.

But at community colleges, which have the highest proportion of Pell Grant recipients and enroll many students who might be cut off, the view is different: the changes amount to a “body blow,” said David Baime, senior vice president for government relations and research at the American Association of Community Colleges.

The budget, proposed Sept. 29 by an appropriations subcommittee, would make several changes to the Pell Grant program. Among them: The grants could be used for 12 semesters, not the current 18; students enrolled less than half-time would no longer be eligible; and students who are eligible for less than 10 percent of the maximum grant would receive nothing, rather than $550 as they would have in the past. Students without a high school diploma or GED would no longer receive the grants.

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INSIDE HIGHER ED

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