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Changes to Pell Grant program may leave Michigan college students felling shortchanged

Students walk on the Allendale campus of Grand Valley State University
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)
Students walk on the Allendale campus of Grand Valley State University

Michigan college students might have a more difficult time affording summer school classes.  There’s a debate in Congress that might put restrictions on one certain type of federal tuition assistance. 

Pell Grantshelp many financially needy students afford college classes.   For example, 15 hundred Wayne State University students used their Pell grants to pay for classes last summer.  

But President Obamawants to change the Pell program to restrict the grant funds to Fall and Spring semesters.  Meanwhile, Republicans in Congress want to cut the size of Pell grants by about 20%. 

Al Hermsen is the director of financial aid at Wayne State University.  He's worried about the effect the proposed changes could have on students who need the Pell grant money.

“If I had to choose between that I would say eliminate the year-round Pell in order to save the full funding level for the regular academic year would be my personal opinion.”

Hermsen says 9 thousand Wayne State University students received Pell grants worth almost $45 million last year.   

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.