Bush proposes Pell Grant time limits

by Emily Ayshford

President George W. Bush proposed Tuesday a time limit that would restrict the number of years students can receive Pell Grants.

The money saved from the time limit would go toward low-income grants for students studying science or mathematics in college, according to the proposal.

The plan proposes an eight-year time limit for Pell Grants for four-year degrees and a four-year time limit for two-year degrees.

Bush outlined parts of the proposal at South Arkansas Community College in El Dorado, Ark.

Conditions on the time limit are still unclear.

Larry Bloom, manager of the University’s undergraduate services, said a time limit already exists on Pell Grants. Students can only receive grants up to 150 percent of the time needed for the degree, he said.

For example, students attending school full time for a four-year degree can receive the grant for six years, and students attending half time can receive the grant for 12 years.

It is unclear whether the eight-year time limit would apply to full- or half-time students.

“If it just sets a hard and fast eight-year limit, that would be a negative thing,” Bloom said.

The maximum Pell Grant amount is currently $4,050 per year. Approximately 6,200 students at the University receive the grants, Bloom said.

The proposed Presidential Math and Science Scholars Fund would provide $100 million in grants to low-income students eligible for Pell Grants. Although the program would be separate from the Pell Grant program, students would receive an additional $5,000 to study math or science.

Bloom said merit and specific areas of study have not previously played a role in determining who is eligible for grants.

“It has never been there before,” he said. “It has always been if you’ve been admitted to a school, it just looks at you economically.”

But any grants are helpful to students, Bloom said.

“Any time any needy student can get more money, that’s a good thing,” he said.