State to study impact of changes to Pell Grant eligibility - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

State to study impact of changes to Pell Grant eligibility

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The Alabama Commission on Higher Education (ACHE) has commissioned the University of Alabama Education Policy Center to conduct a study of the impact on Alabama of the new rules dealing with recent changes in Pell Grant eligibility.  The study will provide data pertinent to Alabama's two- and four-year public institutions and the impact that the reduction in Pell funds will have on each school's student population.  Pell Grants are financial aid awarded by the federal government that do not need to be paid back by the student and are given out based on financial need. 

Changes include :

* Ability-to-Benefit students are those who have not received a high school diploma or GED but have demonstrated their capacity to benefit from college access through testing or course completion.  These students were no longer eligible for student aid after July first.  

* Maximum income for automatic zero EFC students has been reduced from $32,000 to $23,000.

*  Maximum of 18 full-time semesters of Pell Grant awards reduced 12. However, for students who are less-than full-time, the cap is applied proportionally to their enrollment.

* Students receiving the minimum Pell Grant award of $555 no longer qualified to receive Pell as of July first.  Currently, a student who is eligible for between five and 10 percent of the maximum ($5,550) will receive 10 percent ($555); a student who is eligible for less than five percent of the maximum will not receive an award.

* Conversion formula of credit hours for certificate programs

Gadsden State Community College says it has already experienced difficulties with  the new conversion of credit hours policy--students have been left short on financial assistance. Also, the school reports it has lost potential career tech students because they did not have a GED.

ACHE expects to have the study findings by November first.





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