By Chanelle Bell
Pell Grants, a need-based federal program on which many university students depend, will be eliminated in the fall for as many as 100,000 students across the country.
Effective July 1, students will only be eligible to receive Pell Grants for 12 semesters instead of the former 18. This affects many students who have changed majors or who have more than one major and are required to stay in college longer in order to complete all the required courses for their majors.
Until now, students with family-incomes of up to $30,000 could automatically receive the maximum $5,500 annual grant. The new maximum permissible family income will be $23,000.
These changes, which were approved by Congress in December, do not just affect students applying for Pell funds for first time but also the students who are already in college and receiving the grant.
Without the help of Pell Grants, many could be forced to drop out before they can graduate or have to borrow more money, increasing their indebtedness.
With tuition prices sky rocketing every year, Pell Grants are for many students the only way they can get a college education, according to the program’s supporters.
Pell Grants fund the education of nearly 10 million students at 5,400 participating institutions in the U.S. Most students receive these grants by filling out what is known as a FAFSA student-aid form.