FASFA Changes: College for the Privileged?
What a way to begin 2012! For all of the continuing education students, and all expecting to jump into a higher learning classroom, things just got a bit more frustrating. With temporary changes in government for 2012-2014 about FAFSA regulations for the Pell Grant, it seems that the targeted changes will affect lower-income neighborhoods the most.
The Federal Pell Grant is worth $5500/yr, but unlike a loan, does not have to be repaid. Having been handed to eligible students to relieve the stress of college fees, it has become a huge resource for many students from poor families. But with the new changes set to take place this year, this will no longer be the case for all.
To begin in July, students who have not received their high school diploma or a GED will no longer be eligible for student aid. According to the release, this will eliminate over 65,000 students. For students who have received certificates and proved themselves eligible for a college education, especially after jail or other circumstances, they will be left to fend for themselves in the thousands of dollars in costs for college.
Second, if students come from a family household that is unable to help pay for any college expenses (determined as EFC), the amount eligible to them will drop from the automatic $32,000 to $23,000 maximum. This will eliminate an additional 12,000 students eligible for Pell Grant money. This, along with the change of eligibility for 18 semesters to 12, will be detrimental to students who have either used up the maximum amount without yet knowing, or have continued education beyond 12 semesters, and will be cut off immediately.
Who is to say these students will have enough credit for a personal loan? And why are students who come from families ineligible to help pay for college, receiving less aid than those who can? While many report to be ‘happy’ with the temporary changes because they are said to affect a few, I am not so certain about the accuracy of these numbers. And furthermore, why should the poor sacrifice through these hard times for all? Sounds like Wall Street all over again. Is the federal government sending us a message?
Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically… Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.” The demand for an intelligent world in the age of intelligence; who would’ve thought?!
Read the official release of the changes here.