Posts Tagged ‘pell grants’

College, Election Season, and YOU!

College, Election Season, and YOU!

Photo: liveuselections.info

In case you hadn’t noticed, there is an important election happening this fall in the United States. Obama vs. Romney is in full swing and both parties are spouting their views on and plans for higher education. If you are a college student, or will be one soon, the election affects you and your education in a big way!

The Fundamentals

President Obama and Mitt Romney differ primarily on the role that the private sector – individuals or private groups – should play when it comes to education. A recent Chicago Tribune article outlines Obama’s opposition to and Romney’s advocacy for the private sector playing a large role in funding college tuition.

Private Colleges do not receive money from their state. Their tuition is usually higher because they operate with private funding.

For-Profit Colleges operate more like businesses. The tuition students pay helps the school operate and stay in business. Many of these schools endorse Mitt Romney.

Public Universities receive funding from state and federal governments.

Obama’s Views

  • The President has criticized the higher education industry of failing to deliver on its promises to students; graduates are often left with debt and a degree that fails to help them find rewarding and beneficial employment.
  • On a recent college town tour, President Obama declared that a college education “isn’t a luxury, it is an economic necessity that every family should be able to afford.”

Romney’s Views

  • Believes for-profit colleges spur good competition.
  • Federal grants and loans are too easily available and actually increase tuition costs.
  • Romney’s goal is to strengthen and simplify the current financial aid system by offering students choices instead of determining stiff regulations.

Obama’s Plan

  • In June 2012, the current administration froze interest rates on federal student loans, saving each student about $1,000 per year.
  • He would create an American Opportunity Tax Credit for students. Under this credit, the first $4,000 of college education would be free for most Americans. Community Colleges would cost nothing for most students to attend. Two thirds (66%) of the average public college or university tuition would be covered by this credit. It is unspecified what is meant by average in this scenario.
  • The President also promises to better the opportunities available for college students with disabilities.
  • The financial aid application process would be reduced to a simple check mark on a family’s tax form.

Romney’s Plan

  • Romney would repeal the freeze on federal student loan interest rates, asserting the need for educational reform over frozen rates.
  • His running mate, Paul Ryan, has proposed a budget plan that cuts domestic spending, which includes education. This would also cut the number of students eligible for Pell Grants.
  • Federal aid would continue to support private and for-profit colleges, and private banks would take over the federal student loan program.
  • Romney would attempt to repeal a law that requires for-profit colleges to receive some funding from students paying full tuition, and not just from federal student loans.

Whether you require financial aid or use federal funding for your higher education, being informed about this year’s Presidential election is incredibly important. Find out about the issues and how they affect you and your family. If you’re 18 or older, get registered and vote your voice this November!

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FAFSA Break Down: Pell Grants

By filling out a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), prospective and current students can deduce their eligibility to receive help from the government to pay for their higher education. There are several different grants, loans, and programs that can be awarded to help students pay for their higher education. If you are a student who requires financial aid, you might receive a Pell Grant. What exactly is a Pell Grant? Let’s break it down.

Who: Pell Grants are available to undergraduate students who have not yet earned their Bachelor’s degree and do not currently owe money towards any other student loans.

What: These grants do not have to be repaid. Pell Grants are often used as the foundation to a student’s financial aid; additional forms of aid can be applied along with Pell Grants. As of July 1, 2012 the maximum amount a student can receive for one award year is $5,500; students can continue to receive aid up to 12 semesters. The amount awarded per year varies depending on the EFC (Expected Family Contribution as calculated by the FAFSA), the cost of the institution, and whether or not the recipient plans to attend full-time or part-time.

The scheduled award is the max amount of money a student receives in one award year (July 1st – June 30th).  You may not use 100% of this scheduled award amount each year if you are a part-time student. If this is the case, it’s possible that the leftover percentage can be applied to subsequent semesters until you reach the full 600% you’ve been given. The 600% comes from the 12 semester maximum; each semester accounts for 50% of your scheduled award.

Where: There are roughly 5,400 colleges and universities where you can use a Pell Grant.

How: Schools can either apply the funds directly to the student’s costs or pay the student by check. Sometimes, colleges and universities will utilize a combination of these two methods. Either way, the school must outline in writing how they plan on paying the student, the amount the student will receive with each payment, and when the payments will be made. Schools must pay the student once per term. Basically, if your school is on a semester schedule, each semester you should receive a Pell Grant payment. If for some reason your school does not have a semester, trimester or quarter system, you will receive payments twice per year.

When: Applications begin rolling in on January 1st for that year’s academic school year. So, if you need financial aid beginning in September of 2013, you can send in your FAFSA on or after January 1, 2013. Remember that the funds are limited and given out on a first come, first serve basis. Deadlines for FAFSA submissions vary by state. Double check with your academic adviser to find out your state’s FAFSA deadline. It can take anywhere from a few weeks to two months for your application to be processed!

Learn about more ways to find money for college at Cappex.

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Friday College Town Hall

In Friday College Town Hall, we post a question about college, and you leave an answer in the comment field.

Today’s question:

 Congress’s 2012 appropriations legislation had some notable eligibility changes to financial aid policy including:

1. Effective immediately and retroactively, students are only eligible for six full-time years of the Pell Grant vs. what used to be 9 years.

2. Students who have only passed an Ability to Benefit test (those who don’t have a GED or high school diploma, or who weren’t homeschooled) will no longer be eligible for federal aid.

3. The family income and expected family contribution scales have shifted slightly, knocking some students out of eligibility. So students who received small grants might become ineligible.

Are you aware of these changes to student federal aid?

Have a thought or an answer? Leave a reply below.

We’ve also asked our @Cappex Twitter followers to chime in! Here’s what people are saying on Twitter:

 

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