Financial aid can’t keep up with tuition hikes
Published: Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 11, 2012 22:09
The cost of obtaining a higher education keeps rising, but the financial help students receive isn’t increasing at the same rate to help fill the gap. This is particularly true for the Pell Grant Program.
The Pell Grant was originally created to help students with low-income backgrounds afford college and, ideally, graduate debt free. According to The Huffington Post, the Pell Grant used to cover 77 percent of the cost of tuition at a four-year institute and the entire cost of a two-year degree in 1980 at public institutions.
Now, the Pell grant covers a meager 36 percent of the cost for a four-year degree and 62 percent for a two-year degree at public institutions.
At FGCU, only 36 percent of students receive a Pell Grant, but the amount equals out to $15.8 million overall.
Brian Casey, associate director of the Department of Student Financial Services, says reduction in financial aid may not affect students as heavily as the rise in tuition.
“I don’t see massive cuts (to the Pell Grant) in the future, so I do not see it affecting enrollment,” Casey said. “The issue also involves tuition increase and reduction in state funding.”
Students aren’t the only victims of the rough economy.
The Pell Grant itself faced cuts from the Senate, but the bill never finalized. However, the program has changed its eligibility requirements. Students who are in school for more than 12 semesters will no longer qualify for the grant. The previous cap was 18 semesters.
Casey cautions students against withdrawing from classes and said prolonging degree completion is detrimental.
He also advises students to look for ways to reduce the financial needs they face by looking for outside scholarships, a part-time job or taking out a loan, but only what is necessary.
Seantai Beason, a senior majoring in biology, said tuition increasing at a higher rate than the Pell grant defeats the purpose of the program.
“I feel the Pell grant amount should increase as well because the grant is no longer supporting a student’s need. Although it is a benefit to have the program in the first place, it falls short of the purpose of the program,” Beason said.