Federal government limits grants, student loans

Congress recently passed a law limiting the amount of Pell grant and federal student loan money students can receive in one financial aid year.

Shauna James, scholarship manager with Student Financial Services, said the new law will greatly affect UNA students who attend class during the summer terms.

“I don’t believe there is any threat of (regular student loans and Pell grants) being eliminated,” James said. “They haven’t cut loans, but they haven’t increased them either.”

James said federal student loans and Pell grants will not be offered to students in the summer months, but will continue to be offered to students in the fall and spring. This is due to the federal government cutting the second Pell grant award for the year.

According to James, Pell grants are prorated. Students that do not use the entire amount of financial aid they receive in the regular term can carry them over to the summer term. She added that students who are not enrolled full time in a semester can carry their remaining balance of grant money over to the summer.

Bethany Downs, a freshman child development major at UNA, said the new federal loan and Pell grant regulations are keeping her from attending class during the summer term.

“The Pell grant application is easier now than it has ever been,” James said.

James recommends students fill out the Pell grant application well in advance of the deadline.

James also suggests that parents apply for a Parent Plus student loan so that they can receive more financial aid.

In the past, Congress limited the amount of Pell grant aid students could receive to $5,550 and did not increase it for this school year.

James recommends students apply for private loans, endowed scholarships and other scholarships in addition to federal aid. She said this allows students to pay the remaining amount of their tuition because the Pell grant typically does not cover the rising cost of tuition.

“It never hurts to fill out the endowed scholarship application,” she said.

James said a little more than 800 students filled out the endowed scholarship application for this year. She suggests that more students fill out the application to receive financial aid in the future.

James recommends students fill out their FAFSA when they file their taxes, so they will be reminded to turn their FAFSA in. She added that many students wait until it is too late to receive financial aid, and they are forced to use private loan companies to pay for school.

For more information regarding financial aid, contact Student Financial Services at 256-765-4278 or visit www.una.edu/financial-aid.

News Editor Josh Skaggs contributed to this story.