Pell Grant cuts affect college-bound Micronesians at home and abroad

By Nikita Espangel

On December 23, nurse 2011, ampoule President Barack Obama signed into law the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2012 (Public Law 112-74).  This law did not receive much media coverage before Obama was re-elected into office, but college students are now feeling the affects of the legislation.  This law applies to students going to colleges in the United States and also those attending college in Micronesia.
The Compact of Freely Associated countries of Palau, Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau are all eligible to attend universities in the U.S. and if accepted by a college, are eligible to receive Pell grants while attending.  Students attending colleges in Micronesia are also eligible to get funds from Pell Grants.

Palau Community College sign
All students receiving Pell Grants and attending colleges such as Palau Community College shown here,will be affected by cuts

Under this new legislation,  the yearly maximum Pell grant for each student has been raised to $5,500, an $800 increase from the previous year.  However, the maximum number of semesters for Pell grant eligibility has been decreased from 18 to 12.
According to Palau Community College’s Student Affairs office, a possible upside to the legislation might help “institutions [such as PCC] and students be more accountable to their education, as the money spent really needs to be used to complete their degree programs.”
Most community colleges only offer associates degrees, which traditionally are completed within 4 semesters.   However, if a student only takes classes part-time, it will take more semesters to complete a degree.   This new legislation may force  students to consider attending college full-time, as opposed to part-time, as a student is not limited by the amount of aid they are granted in their lifetime, but by the number of semesters they are granted aid.
To combat this, college students are being encouraged to pass all their classes.  And according to the PCC’s Student Affairs “there are processes in place [to help students pass] but at the end of the day it is up to the students to meet these requirements.”
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