LEWISTON, Idaho – The return of Year-Round Federal Pell Grants for the summer semester is helping a number of Lewis-Clark State College students earn their degrees faster without increasing their student debt.
A Pell Grant is the largest of the student grant programs in the United States and are awarded to qualifying undergraduate students who do not yet have a bachelor’s degree. The life-time amount of Pell Grant a person may receive is limited to the equivalent of six years of funding at an institution. Year-Round Pell Grants were established to provide additional funding while encouraging students to accelerate the completion of their education.
What makes a Federal Pell Grant optimal is that unlike a loan, it does not have to be repaid, except under certain circumstances, such as withdrawing from the semester early, going from enrolled full-time to being a part-time student, or receiving other financial scholarships or grants.
Year-Round Pell Grants were previously available nationally during the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 school years. What differentiates Year-Round Pell Grants is that the annual award is not based on nine months as it is with regular Pell Grants. Year-Round Pell Grants, as the name implies, allows students who go full-time in the fall and spring semester to also be eligible for Pell Grants during the summer while attending at least half-time.
“The return of the Year-Round Pell will enable students to accelerate completion of their degrees,” said Andy Hanson, LCSC’s vice president for Student Affairs. “We will continue to structure our summer offerings so that this goal can be achieved for even more people in the years to come.”
According to LCSC financial aid director Laura Hughes, 89 students at LCSC were awarded Pell Grants for the summer. Students were eligible for up to $2,960 in Pell Grant funding based on individual eligibility.
For students like Katie O’Shaughnessy (pictured above), who is finishing her junior year this summer as a business administration major with a minor in marketing, obtaining a Pell Grant for summer courses is huge.
“I would not be attending LCSC this summer if the Pell Grant hadn’t been available to me,” said the Clarkston High graduate who currently lives in Asotin. “I would not be able to afford summer school without the grant.”
O’Shaughnessy said the grant is helping her achieve her goal of a college degree quicker and it’s also helping with her finances because she doesn’t have to pay the money back.
“If I didn't receive the Pell Grant for this summer term I would have been graduating in the spring of 2020, and I am instead able to graduate this coming spring of 2019,” she said. “The Pell Grants have made my education achievable. I am an unconventional student; I work full time and I have two kids, so my money is limited. The Pell Grant has relieved the financial burden of school.”
O’Shaughnessy said her coursework at LCSC is helping her learn more about running and building her business, Halo Salon in Lewiston, which she co-owns.