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2014 February 3 - 12:00 am

POLITICS & POLICY: Ill. College To Offer Pell Grants to College Graduates

Politics & Policy

Students who already have a college degree could soon be eligible for federal Pell Grants to help pay for career retraining at Lewis and Clark Community College.

The college, located in Godfrey, Ill., has been chosen a pilot site for a U.S. Department of Education experiment aimed at determining whether the new eligibility can increase employability and decrease student debt.

Students who have earned a college degree currently are ineligible for Pell Grants, the country’s bedrock financial aid program for low-income residents. They instead must rely on loans, scholarships or pay for school out-of-pocket.

L&C has been chosen as a pilot site for this initiative. It which will help students who already have a bachelor’s or associate degree — but who are unemployed or underemployed — return to school to pursue a new degree or certificate.

During the pilot program, randomly selected students will be eligible for grants to cover up to a year toward completing a new degree or certificate. The maximum Pell Grant for the 2013-14 school year is $5,645, though the amount is based on financial need.

“There’s now a chance for many students to receive federal grant funding to further their education and increase their employability through this Federal Pell program,” said said Angela Weaver, the college’s director of financial aid. “Lewis and Clark’s participation in this initiative will help provide the necessary data for the U.S. Department of Education to determine if awarding the Federal Pell Grant to students meeting these criteria if viable.”

Eligible students will be randomly chosen for this pilot program by the Education Department and must begin their program at Lewis and Clark any time beginning in 2014.

“We’re pleased that we were selected by the Department of Education to take part in this experimental program,” said Kent Scheffel, vice president of enrollment. “This experiment will provide a Pell grant to several students who were not eligible in the past. We’re hoping the experiment will prove successful and all eligible students will have the opportunity to receive funding in the future.”

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