Loss of Pell Grant eligibility - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Loss of Pell Grant eligibility

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MONTGOMERY - AL -

More than 5,000 Alabama public higher education students lost Pell Grant eligibility in the Fall of 2012, with the potential of 13,000 more being affected during 2013 as a result of changes in the federal guidelines.  The cuts in Pell Grants have resulted in lower enrollment at nearly every community college in Alabama, as well as at public universities serving areas with high unemployment.

These reductions strongly jeopardize Alabama's goal to achieve higher levels of college completions.

Those findings have been released in a study conducted by the Education Policy Center at the University of Alabama.  The study was commissioned by the Alabama Commission on Higher Education (ACHE).

In the past four years, 43,000 more students were using Pell to access Alabama public higher education.  During that time period, federal Pell funding for access in Alabama grew by $300 million, 72% at two- year public institutions and 55% at four-year public universities. 

 "The federal changes will have a huge impact in educational attainment," according to Gregory G. Fitch, ACHE executive director.   "These reductions strongly jeopardize Alabama's pipeline to higher levels of college completions".

The Pell Grant program serves as Alabama's de facto state student aid program.  The Alabama Student Assistance Program, funded by the Education Trust Fund, uses state dollars to support needs-based education. It has seen a decrease in funding since 2008.  Another blow to student aid was Alabama's lost access to Federal Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership (LEAP) matching funds. LEAP was eliminated at the federal level.

Alabama falls below the national average in the number of college graduates.  The inability of students to get financial assistance could keep that number low which will hamper economic development growth.

The detailed report can be found at www.ache.alabama.gov  A Study of Pell Grants in Alabama is located under Quick Links – Commission Initiatives.

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