Thousands of African American College Students Face Losing Their Pell Grants

Under new regulations passed by Congress, thousands of African Americans will lose their Pell Grant awards as of July 1. For many of these students, the loss of federal grant money will force them to drop out of college. Others will decide not to enroll in the first place.

The new rules eliminate Pell Grants for college students who do not have a high school diploma or a GED equivalent. There are more than 65,000 college students without high school diplomas who have been receiving Pell Grants. An additional 63,000 students who have been receiving Pell Grants but have been in college for more than six years, will not be eligible for additional grants. In the past, students who were enrolled in college for up to nine years could receive Pell Grants.

The cuts will be disproportionately felt by Blacks and other minorities. According to the Institute for College Access & Success, African American students comprise about a quarter of all Pell Grant recipients but make up 41 percent of Pell Grant recipients working toward a degree after six years. Thus, more than two out of every five students impacted by the new rule abolishing Pell Grants for students in college for more than six years, will be African Americans.

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  1. Sad, but white Americans are always looking for ways to stop Black people in America from rising above their ignorance from slavery and moving on to a better quality of life. Education is key.

    • This evening on May 31, 2012, at 7:30 pm, in Laurens, South Carolina, 12th grade students will be receiving their high school diplomas.

      I had an extensive cell phone conversation with a 12th grade black male student. He will be receiving his high school diploma this evening. He is also, a gifted young musician.

      I was reminding him to write the lyrics for a song dedicated to his single mother, who had her first child at age 14 years. I do not want to discuss the wisdom of having a child at 14 years. We need to have a ‘root-and-branch’ conversation on the merits and demerits of having children at 14, at a later date.

      This young mother should be congratulated, and so should be hundreds of thousands of black single mothers in the nation, whose sons and daughters have graduated from high school and college, against the odds!

      But, the African-American communities in every 50 states have to wage a series of major long-term struggles for the future and very existence of this present generation of black children, teens, and young adults from 1 to 24 years old.

      We have to fight politically to keep the Pell Grant and extend it to nine years.

      We have fight for quality education for black students from kindergarten to twelfth grade in every state.
      We have to fight to ensure that the majority of our children are graduating with a high school diploma.
      We have to fight to keep black students at college and ensure that they graduate.
      We have to help our 18 to 24 year olds to find and keep jobs, especially high paying jobs.

      We have to fight to keep our black males, in particular, from being involved with the criminal justice system, and away from spending time in prison.

      We must not abandon those black males who are in prison.

      We have to do all we can to help to reform the criminal justice system that dishes out ‘cruel and unusual punishment’ to our black males, especially for drug offenses.

      The struggle continues.

  2. The Federal Pell Grant is limited to 12 full time terms, which is six years. The six year limitation is in line with the average time frame for undergraduate completion of a bachelors degree. It is important to note that two half time enrollment terms is equal to one full time enrollment term. Students not attending school full time have Pell eligibility for more than six years.

    As someone who has worked in student services in financial aid, advising and student success; the more important issue is when will we start having discussions with our students about the strategy of obtaining a college education. They need to be able to make informed decisions because the decisions they are making potentially have life long implications.

    Everything with the Pell program and Title IV regulations is not perfect; however, it is adequate in allowing undergraduates to reach that first milestone -the bachelors degree. However, the quality of services offered in the student services division of any institution must be scrutinized carefully.

    Financial resources is a small portion of the student success pie. The most important aspect of a getting the education one desires is a clear understanding of the rules and regulations that govern the ability to be able to receive the financial resources needed. In addition we have to learn how to use those resources strategically, once we have them. An example of this would be the differences between academic progress and academic progress for financial aid. Institutions must be dogmatic about educating students regarding these important student service issues and students must have a desire to know the rules of the game.

    Hopefully, the discussions in higher education will extend beyond money to focus on preventative counseling.

  3. I agree with both comments to some extent; my concern would be the cutting of aid to students who do not have a high school diploma or GED. If the student is enrolled in an institutional of higher learning, performing the work and completing requirements towards a degree, why shouldn’t they be able to have a grant to assist them in completing their education? They’ve shown the capacity for learning at the post-secondary level, and should be encouraged to move forward.

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