Volume 47, Number 14 - March 15, 2010

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Alexandra de Armas
Alexandra de Armas
North Campus Bureau Chief

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Pell Grant changes to affect students

By Alexandra de Armas

Changes to the Federal Pell Grant program will limit students’ eligibility to 18 full-time semesters; students will also be able to receive the grant for payment of summer classes.

The changes will affect students who began receiving the Pell Grant as of July 2008, according to Chimene Garrison, financial aid director at the North Campus.

Students who received a Pell Grant prior to July 2008 can receive funds until they complete their undergraduate degree, and the grant will not pay for summer classes. 

“In order to receive the grant for the summer term, a full-time student would be required to complete at least 24 credits the previous fall and spring term,” Garrison said.

Part-time students, that are Pell Grant recipients, will receive the grant until they reach the equivalence of the 18 full-time semesters.

School officials said getting the information out to students about the changes in the Pell Grant is paramount.

“The financial aid department has not encountered any troubles so far,” Garrison said. “We are still in the informing stage of the process. We do not want any student to continue their studies without a warning of the change and how it will affect them.”

Pell Grants are based on financial need. To be eligible, students must be successful in at least 67 percent of their classes to remain eligible for the grant.

Malou Harrison, dean of students at the North Campus, said she is concerned for students who began their studies at MDC taking English for Academic Purposes classes and college prep courses.

“Although students in these groups may be making wonderful academic progress,” Harrison said, “it takes them longer to earn their bachelor’s degree.”

Fernando Villavicencio, a 21-year-old mechanical engineering major at the North Campus, is one such case. He arrived in the United States in February of 2007 from Ecuador not knowing a word of English.

Because of his situation, Villavicencio said he feels the pressure of “being hurried” to finish his degree within 18 full-time semesters.

“I spent two years taking English classes which put me behind in my studies,” Villavicencio said.

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