Written by Joanna Hughes

Looking to take some classes this summer but facing a shortfall of funds? Thanks to a change in the Federal Pell Grant Program, eligible college students may not be able to use Pell Grant funds for summer school -- without cutting into their academic year support. Here’s what you need to know, as recently reported by WBRC.

A Welcome Change

Many cash-strapped college students rely on Pell Grant funding to cover their costs. Under the program, students receiving full Pell Grants receive nearly $3,000 a semester, which covers tuition, fees, books and other expenses for most college students. Until this year, however, funding was only made available during the traditional academic year. While students could save unused funding and apply it to summer school, they were otherwise on their own.

Now comes news that funding will also be available during the summer -- meaning eligible students can receive three semesters of funding per academic year -- in other words, 150 percent of their scheduled Pell Grant award.

An Economic Advantage

Insiders say that the extra funding will help students complete their education more quickly -- both those looking to enter the workforce as well as those planning to continue their education.

One community college Dean of Student Services told WBRC of the change’s impact on students, “They need to get out quickly, they need to be able to to to work a lot of times, to feed their families. We have a lot of non traditional age students that are looking to go work, retool, get a new job, get a better career, change their career...We have a lot of college-age students, as well, that are looking to go to the next level, go to a four-year university, and that just allows them to get out of here more quickly and reach that goal.”

Wondering whether you qualify for need-based Pell Grant funding? Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) here.



Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.
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