New Rule Limits Eligibility For Federal College Pell Grants: Higher Education

Ann McClure's picture
Friday, August 24, 2012

Some Northeast Ohio college students have exhausted their eligibility for the free federal Pell grant.

A new rule, effective this fall, reduced the number of full-time semesters that students could receive the need-based aid from 18 to 12, or six years of college.

"The Pell grant program has grown so significantly in the last decade and the federal government had to look for some cost-saving measures," said Diane Stemper, executive director of financial aid at Ohio State University.

One option was to reduce the amount of the Pell grant, which provides a maximum of $5,550 a year for a full-time student, but that would not have been fair to students making good progress toward a degree, Stemper said. Capping the semesters at 12 was considered the least damaging.

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