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Obama Administration Seeks to Expand Pell Grants

President ObamaPresident Obama

The Obama Administration wants more students who receive Pell grants to graduate from college as quickly as possible and is proposing to pay more to help make that happen.

The Department of Education (ED) announced two new proposals Tuesday that would expand the federal program by $2 billion in the new fiscal year to allow its low-income recipients to attend classes year-round and give students more money for taking more credits. Pell Grants do not have to be repaid.

Under the current structure, a student is able to access two grants during the course of a traditional academic year, averaging about $3,600 total. If that money is exhausted during the two semesters, a student who wanted to go to summer school would have to bear that expense.

The Pell for Accelerated Completion would enable recipients to take classes over the summer and the On-Track Pell Bonus would give a $300 reward to students taking at least 15 credits per semester in an academic year. The revised program will be included in President Obama’s budget proposal next month.

The government awarded $28.7 billion in Pell Grants to almost 8.3 million students in the 2015 fiscal year. The maximum Pell award for the 2015-16 school year is $5,775.

“Finishing faster means more students will complete their education at a lower cost and likely with less student debt,” the department wrote in a memo outlining the changes. “This proposal would help an estimated 2.3 million students next year as they work to finish their degrees faster.”

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