07:08 PM

South Texas College students see ‘significant impact’ from new Pell Grant extension

Degrees may be attained sooner than ever now that additional Pell Grant funds are available for summer semester

Students relying on financial aid at South Texas College (STC) say recent changes to the federal Pell Grant will have a significant impact on completion of their degrees.

An extension of Pell by the U.S. Department of Education may help students interested in attending classes during summer 2018.

Changes in place will now allow current Pell recipients who have exhausted their aid to receive additional aid during the summer. Current Pell recipients do not have to complete additional paperwork to take advantage of this opportunity because the 2017-2018 FAFSA also includes the 2018 summer semester.

According to Mission native Jessica Rodriguez, financial aid has made a huge impact on her school career. Initially looking at a 2019 graduation, Rodriguez says the new Pell rules will now enable her to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in December 2018.

“In my opinion, this is a big deal and it has the potential to affect a lot of students’ college careers. In my case, I would be finishing in 2019 if it wasn’t for the year-round Pell we will now be receiving over the summer,” Rodriguez said. “Now that I have the opportunity and the financial aid to come to class in the summer, I will now be able to finish my degree by December. It really puts you ahead, and it gives you that additional step to finishing sooner.”

Starting at STC in 2015, Rodriguez graduated with her Associate degree in Communications in May 2017 and is now pursuing her Bachelor’s Degree in Organizational Leadership. Jessica says she is highly interested in a career in Communications, preferably in Journalism, Public Relations or Advertising.

Once she receives her bachelor’s degree, Jessica says she intends to pursue her Master’s degree in Communications.

“In addition to STC being affordable, you have access to Pell Grants, scholarships, and work study grants. All of these have played a huge part in letting me be able to attend school, and continuing to let me achieve goals I wouldn’t have been able to do on my own,” Rodriguez said. “This is a huge head start that is helping students get ahead of the game as opposed to waiting over the summer in the event they didn’t have the financial ability to pay for their classes.”

The Federal Pell Grant Program provides need-based grants to low-income undergraduate and certain post baccalaureate students to promote access to postsecondary education. For many students in the Rio Grande Valley, one of the great benefits of attending STC is the prospect of graduating debt free thanks to Federal Pell Grants that never have to be repaid, as long students meet eligibility requirements.

“This change has increased the Pell Grant from 100 percent to 150 percent, which means that a student that has exhausted their Pell Grant after attending fall and spring full-time now has an additional Pell Grant in the summer as long as they meet certain eligibility requirements,” said Juan Miguel Galvan, Director of Student Financial Services at South Texas College. “This is an opportunity that will allow students to attend all year and advance in their program of study.”

Grant amounts are dependent on the student’s expected family contribution, cost of attendance, enrollment status, and whether the student attends for a full academic year or less.

Students who want to apply for financial aid are encouraged to go online to https://fafsa.ed.gov/ to start their free application. For more information, contact STC Student Financial Services at 956-872-8375.