According to the White House, the reason for this $40 billion dollar increase is two-fold. The added money will help account for the speculated rise in tuition rates over the next five years, while allowing even more students in need to obtain much-needed assistance in paying for a higher education.
The Pell Grant is considered the foundation of federal aid for new students entering college, and is one of the largest grant programs in the country. Currently, the Pell Grant has a maximum allotment of about $5,600 or so, but this amount will rise to $6,900 by 2019 to help students adjust with the rapidly rising tuition increases at public and private universities nationwide.
In addition, the Pell Grant requirements have changed recently as well, reducing the minimum amount of hours that a student has to be enrolled in classes to qualify as a grant recipient. Before, students had to take a full course load every semester in order to be eligible for federal assistance, however now every single student may apply, regardless of how many courses they are able to fit into their schedule every semester. This is a significant change for working adults who want to further their education, but can't afford to leave their day jobs to pursue a degree full-time.
While the Pell grant is arguably the main go-to for students in need of financial assistance, it certainly isn't the only option. The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant is another form of aid awarded to students who are in dire financial need of assistance. This grant can actually be applied for and used in conjunction with the Pell grant, allowing potential students to receive even more funds to pay for their education. The grant can be applied to colleges, universities, and even vocational schools for adults of all ages to launch a new career, or simply expand their knowledge of their existing field.
The only caveat is that a school the student is attending or applying to must also participate in the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant or FSEOG program. This information can often be obtained with a call to the school's admissions office, or is also often posted online under the schools "Financial Aid" section.
To be eligible for either grant, above all else, a student must demonstrate dire financial need. This is by far the most critical qualifier for receiving federal funds, and is more important than any other criteria, including race, gender, career track, or age. Be prepared to prove and show evidence of your financial need when applying, which may include proof of income, and documentation of regular household expenses.
Educating Americans to excel and rise in their current career or explore new options is crucial to developing an economically stable nation and lowering the national unemployment rates, and the changes to the existing federal grants for prospective and current students aim to address this far-reaching goal. Research and review the vast number of financial aid available for students, and familiarize yourself with the recent changes to the extensive Federal Pell , and take the first steps to launching your education and career in a new, and hopefully successful and prosperous, direction.