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Official: Pell Grant Reform Could Hurt Mississippi Students

By Daniel Cherry | Published 21 Jun 2012 07:25pm | comments
Congress is debating portions of higher education spending and Mississippi education officials think students here could be on the losing end. MPB's Daniel Cherry has more on why that has stakeholders worried.
Democrats and Republicans are battling on Capitol Hill over federal financial aid spending. One proposed cost-saving measure would restrict how federal Pell Grants are used. Dr. Hank Bounds, Mississippi's Institutions of Higher Learning Commissioner, says that's going to hurt some Mississippi students.
"Pell is intended for students that come from a poorer background. And obviously we know that those students typically arrive less prepared, and so it would seem that would be counterproductive to the ability of our nation to produce better-educated citizenry."
Dr. Bounds says the plan would restrict students from using federal Pell Grants on remedial courses. Zavien Magee, a Political Science major at Jackson State University thinks some students will be priced out.
"I think that's horrible because when I first came to the University, I had to take remedial courses and I'm the SGA Vice President now. So that's basically discouraging students from going to school."
For those like BJ Moncure the Financial Aid Director at JSU, the goal is to follow the law, and help as many students as possible.
"We just have to make sure that the students have the available resources, whether it's through the state, federal or private sources, whatever it takes. We want to make sure that our students are able to go to school."
Over the coming days, lawmakers will also consider whether to increase spending to keep student loan interest rates low. Without more funding before July 1st, the rate will jump from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent on new loans. Daniel Cherry...MPB News.




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