The Education Department said Monday will begin identifying students who burned through federal Pell grants to pay for colleges that closed before they could graduate, with the goal of restoring eligibility for thousands of people.
Pell is available only for six years or 12 semesters. Say a student pursuing a bachelor’s degree uses three years worth of that aid before his college closes. If that student is unable to transfer his credits and has to start over somewhere else, she would not have enough Pell money left to cover the degree.
Thousands of students affected by the closures of ITT Technical Institutes and Corinthian Colleges have found themselves in that exact position. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, found a provision in the Higher Education Act that gives the Education Department authority to grant students additional aid, which ultimately led former Education Secretary John B. King Jr. to take action.
At the end of October, the department agreed to recognize its existing authority to restore Pell eligibility to students for the time they attended schools that closed dating back to 2008, when Congress shortened the aid time frame from 18 semesters to 12. But having those changes reflected in the operating system that governs financial aid disbursements took months. (Washington Post)