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Year-round Pell Grants pay off for students

Summer enrollment is up 2 percent. Here’s how a change in funding helps students afford to continue their studies.

By Cory Phare

June 18, 2018

Students walking in front of SSBSummer-semester enrollment is up about 2 percent compared with last year – and a big driver is access to an additional funding source for qualifying students.

“The impact of the year-round Pell Grant is significant,” said Thad Spaulding, executive director of the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships.

Pell Grant funds have increased by 160 percent and the number of students using them has doubled from summer 2017 to summer 2018. These numbers are comparable with the last time year-round Pell Grants were offered in 2010-11, Spaulding said.

The program benefits Pell recipients by now making grant resources available to students throughout the aid year; previously, most full-time qualifying recipients could receive the grants only for fall and spring semesters.

Another advantage? The increase of 121 more students now eligible for work-study, which may have a positive impact on retention, said Lori Kester, associate vice president of enrollment management.

“We’ve been able to distribute substantial award packages, and the availability of year-round Pell Grants has definitely had a positive effect on summer enrollment,” Kester said.

In addition to enabling engagement throughout the year, it also has the benefit of helping students progress to degree completion faster.

“Students are able to accelerate their education by taking classes in the summer and potentially forgoing additional borrowing to pay for another term,” Spaulding said. 

“We attribute the success of the program first to lawmakers for approving (it) but also to the significant efforts to communicate year-round Pell availability to our students and staff,” he added. 

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