Students seeking financial aid from the federal government will see their maximum levels of aid increase next year.
After provisions added in President Barack Obama’s federal budget, the maximum amount of annual aid available from a Pell Grant will increase from $5,350 in 2009 to $5,500 for 2010, Kansas University officials said.
Both of the maximum Pell Grant awards are increased over a level of $4,731 for the current academic year. Also, the levels at which families are able to contribute to a college education are being raised, allowing for people who make slightly more money to participate in the program.
“Basically, it means more people can get more money,” said Todd Cohen, a KU spokesman.
Eric Lotke, research director for the liberal group Campaign for America’s Future, said that for every $100 the Pell Grant maximum increases, an additional 130,000 students take advantage of the program because it allows for that last bit of extra funding they need to get through college.
His group estimates that an additional 2,435 college students in Kansas would join the Pell program with the new measures in place.
“Our experience has been that when Pell Grants go up, more students apply,” Lotke said.
Lotke said funding for the increases came from the phasing out of subsidies to banks for providing loans to students.
“It’s a win for the students and a loss for the banks,” Lotke said.
Cohen said the increases in the maximum amount available will help account for the rising costs of inflation and the estimated cost of attending higher education.
Other changes to the program also will allow for more students to participate.
Pell Grants will be available for students to use in the summer starting with the upcoming academic year, said KU spokeswoman Jill Jess. Previously, only fall and spring semesters were covered.
Also, she said, the maximum allowable Expected Family Contribution will increase. That value is the result of a formula that helps determine how much money a family will be able to contribute to a college education.
As that maximum allowable value goes up — it is increasing by 13 percent for the upcoming academic year — more and more students become eligible.
Jess said in 2007-08, the latest data available, 3,237 KU students received a Pell Grant. She said based on previous years, the university anticipates about 250 more KU students will be eligible for aid in 2009-10 because of the new rules.
The number of KU students becoming eligible for aid may increase, Jess said, given the current economic climate, including increased unemployment rates impacting family incomes and an expected increase in people filing the annual Free Application for Federal Student Aid applications.
Filing the form before the March 1 priority date each year can ensure consideration for need-based aid from a variety of sources. KU received more than 27,000 FAFSA forms in 2007-08, resulting in more than 16,000 students receiving aid, Jess said.