Students can reach limits for financial aid

Roberto Hodge, Multicultural Editor

Three years ago, President Barack Obama signed into affect the Consolidations Appropriations Act, which has significantly impacted the federal Pell Grant Program. Students must now complete their undergraduate educational career in less than six years; otherwise their Pell Grant will no longer be available.

Carol Waldman, the associate director of financial aid, said the Monetary Award Program also has a specific time limit, but only in terms of hours accumulated. She said MAP is no longer available once a student has taken a total of 135 semester hours while in college, which includes hours taken at the community college level.

Waldmann said before the program was enacted, she remembered seeing the names of specific students on her roster multiple years and thought nothing of it until she looked at how many years they were in school.

Some students were enrolled at Eastern for a long as seven or eight years, she said.

“They only give you so much time to graduate.” Waldmann said.

Waldmann said the law made it difficult for students to graduate on time and also put a lot of pressure on students. In the past, students have come to her shocked from finding out in a message in their PAWS account detailing how much they have spent in aid money.

Aside from students reaching lifetime Pell and MAP grant money, there is also a lifetime amount in loans a student can reach, but that all depends on what the student’s class level is and if they are classified as a dependent or independent student.

Dependent and independent status depends highly on how old a student is and how questions are answered.

For example, a dependent freshman can borrow up to $3,500 for subsidized loans and $2,000 for unsubsidized. An independent can get $3,500 in subsidized loans and $6,000 in unsubsidized.

In short, a dependent undergraduate can borrow a total of $31,000 in loans and an independent can borrow $57,500. Graduate students, however, can borrow up to $138,500 in loans.


Roberto Hodge can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].