Financial aid changes to limit funding

February 17, 2012 Feature Print Print
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New students coming to college this fall will find a whole new ballgame where financial aid is concerned, said Harold Case, Financial Aid dean.

Among the changes going into effect on July 1 will be tighter restrictions on Pell Grants, he said. Students will only be eligible for 12 full-time semesters or the equivalent of 12 full semesters.

That doesn’t apply just to new students, Case said.

“In 2008, when they went from unlimited Pell down to 18 semesters, they had a grandfather clause,” Case said.

“But now they’ve taken that clause away. Students who came here and took classes [years] ago and were eligible for Pell and took it have already used up some of their time.”

And it isn’t only students who rely on Pell Grants that may run into problems, said Linette McMurtrey, Financial Aid assistant director.

McMurtrey said students who take out subsidized loans are in for a rough time as well.

“Interest subsidy during the six-month grace period is eliminated for new Stafford Loans made [between] July 1, 2012, and July 1, 2014,” she said.

That means that while students still have six months before payments are due, and those six months still begin when the student drops below half-time enrollment, any interest accrued during those six months will be paid by the student, McMurtrey said.

Another change going into place concerns first time eligibility, Case said.

New students will have to have a GED, high school diploma, or have completed high school through homeschool in order to receive federal financial aid, he said.

Case said he feels this is a major concern, due to the mandatory tests now being required for students to obtain their high school diploma.

“If a student can’t pass that test, they’re going to be unable to come here and get aid. And they’re not going to have time to test into, enroll in and pass the GED classes before the fall semester starts,” he said.

Case said this requirement does not apply to returning students, who can be grandfathered in on their previous college experience, “as long as they took a class that counts toward a major.”

That presents an unusual problem, he said. “While returning students have the advantage of being grandfathered in under the old requirements, they also have a limited amount of Pell to work with or may have already used it up.”

For more on the changes or any Financial Aid issue, call Student Financial Support Services at 405-682-7525 or visit www.occc.edu/FinancialAid.

To contact Jeremy Cloud, email editor@occc.edu.

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