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Bustos looks at Pell grant reform

Published: Friday, May 10, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT
U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos

U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos introduced legislation Thursday that would give more flexibility to college students receiving Pell grants.

The Access to Education and Training Act would allow students who receive Pell grants to take advantage of the grants year round, including over the summer, even if they went to school full time during the fall and spring semesters.

Many of those who would benefit most are nontraditional students who want to complete their coursework sooner so they can get back into the workforce, Bustos said in a news release.

The Higher Education Opportunity Act, signed into law in 2008, contained a provision that created year-round Pell grants, but it was eliminated in 2011.

Under current law, a student who goes to school full time during the fall and spring semesters would not be eligible to receive Pell grant awards for summer courses. 

Bustos, D-East Moline, who represents all of Carroll and Whiteside counties, and Rep. Dave Loebsack, an Iowa Democrat, partnered to introduce the legislation to reinstate flexibility for students.

“Pell grants enable millions of students to enroll in college each year, but unless we maintain flexibility in awarding Pell grants to students who are in year round and accelerated programs, we are not maximizing the impact for the trained and retrained workforce called for by business and industries in our communities,” Thomas Baynum, president of Black Hawk College in Moline, said in the release.

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