Field Notes: Pell Grant Plusses

by Thomas Ochsner, Director of Scholarships and Financial Aid

Prior to this year, the American economy and American education were typically thought of as distinct and largely unrelated spheres. But debate over education spending in the federal economic stimulus package has brought to the forefront of our attention the short- and long-term impact of education on our economy.

pocket changeMuch of the attention has rightfully focused on public schools at every level. But it begs the question: Will education spending in the stimulus package affect Nebraska Wesleyan University?

Yes, it will.

Now, the federal stimulus won’t help us build a new science building on campus, resurface our track or hire new professors. But the stimulus will make it a little easier for many families to continue to send their sons and daughters to NWU.

The impact comes through changes in the Pell Grant Program, a federal program providing need-based grants to low-income undergraduate students. The stimulus package changes Pell Grants in two ways: it increases the amount of these grants and eases eligibility requirements.

The maximum Pell Grant for the coming academic year is $5,350—an increase of $619 over last year. And students with an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) of up to $4,617 will now be eligible. Last year, the EFC ceiling was $4,041.

We estimate that these changes will help a quarter of our Nebraska Wesleyan University students.