Scholarship News

The State of Federal Student Financial Aid


March 3, 2009
by Scholarships.com Staff
With all the talk about spending and stimulus legislation and bailouts, it can be easy to lose track of what benefits taxpayers can actually expect to receive. Most likely, everyone knows that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, perhaps better known as “the stimulus,” will create jobs through funding “shovel-ready” projects and will put a little extra in paychecks through a tax rebate that will take effect this summer.  You probably also know that there’s also financial aid in there for education, but you may not be sure exactly what.

With all the talk about spending and stimulus legislation and bailouts, it can be easy to lose track of what benefits taxpayers can actually expect to receive. Most likely, everyone knows that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, perhaps better known as “the stimulus,” will create jobs through funding “shovel-ready” projects and will put a little extra in paychecks through a tax rebate that will take effect this summer.  You probably also know that there’s also financial aid in there for education, but you may not be sure exactly what.

Frankly, so much federal legislation and talk of change has been floating around in the last two years that anyone who last paid a tuition bill as recently as 2007 probably doesn’t even recognize financial aid in 2009.  To help, we’ve prepared a breakdown of where student financial aid stands currently.

Pell Grants. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act increased the maximum Federal Pell Grant award from $4,731 for 2008-2009 to $5,350 for 2009-2010.  The maximum Pell award will go up again in 2010-2011 to $5,500 under this legislation.

The income threshold to qualify for federal grant programs also increased.  Now students with an expected family contribution (a number determined by completing the FAFSA) of up to $4,671 (up from $4,041 this year) can qualify for Pell grants.  They will not receive the whole award, but even the minimum award has increased—from $400 for full-time students in 2007-2008 to $976 for the same group in 2009-2010, due in part to the College Cost Reduction and Access Act, which increased all Pell awards by $490.

Students qualifying for Federal Pell Grants can also pick up additional college funding through Academic Competitiveness Grants or SMART grants, which include Pell eligibility in their criteria.  Many non-federal college scholarships and grants also use Pell eligibility to determine awards, so the newly Pell-eligible will definitely want to do a scholarship search to see what’s out there.

Work-Study. More students will also see “federal work-study” on their financial aid award letter in 2009-2010 thanks to the economic stimulus legislation.  More money is available to work-study programs that allow students to get a part-time job on (or occasionally off) campus and count the income as financial aid.  Work-study programs provide great job opportunities for student workers, and since the money is given in the form of a paycheck, students can use these funds to pay their tuition bills or to cover living expenses.

Tax Benefits. One of the biggest perks of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is the creation of the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which replaces the Hope Credit.  The tax benefits under Hope only went up to $1,800 and only could be taken for two years.  The American Opportunity Tax Credit can be used for four years, can fund up to $2,500 of college costs (100% of the first $2,000 plus 25% of the next $2,000, for a total of $2,500), and up to 40% is refundable, so people who don’t pay as much in taxes as they would qualify to receive in the credit can still get something.

Additionally, the income level at which the American Opportunity Tax Credit phases out is higher than the Hope credit, allowing individuals with incomes of up to $90,000 and married couples with incomes of up to $180,000 to take it.

Families will be able to start taking advantage of the American Opportunity Tax Credit on their 2009 taxes.

Other Benefits. Much more is included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  For example, students with 529 savings plans can now use that money to purchase a computer for school.  Additionally, states will receive billions of dollars over the next two years, with a portion of the money devoted specifically to funding projects at public institutions of higher education, as well preventing or reversing massive reductions in state education spending.

While student loans stayed the same in the stimulus, they did receive a boost in the fall through the continuation of the Ensuring Continued Access to Student Loans Act, as well as other recent legislation, including some new aid to lenders.

If you’d like to read more about how recent legislation has affected paying for college, our blog archives feature breakdowns of the 2007 College Cost Reduction Act, the 2008 Higher Education Opportunity Act, the 2008 Ensuring Continued Access to Student Loans Act, the 2008 GI Bill, and more examples of what's going on with college in Congress.

Just because there are millions of college scholarships out there doesn’t mean you have time to go searching, and many won’t even match your profile. We’ve done the work and Scholarships.com is totally free. We have the search algorithms and scholarships database, saving you time in searching, finding and applying to thousands of dollars in college scholarships. Get instantly matched to scholarships that meet your unique talents, skillset and strengths, only those you qualify for. Access a complete list of college scholarships now by conducting a free college scholarship search at Scholarships.com.

ADVERTISEMENT

Discuss

Share your thoughts and perhaps thousands of students will benefit from your unique insight on the subject!



If you can read this, don't touch the following fields


 
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Here at Scholarships.com, we connect students with scholarships that can help alleviate the amount of student loans they need to take out to pay for college. But there are colleges out there that offer students such generous financial aid packages that they need to take out very little in loans if at all. These “no student loans” colleges replace student loans in financial aid packages with additional scholarships and grants to help fund a student’s tuition. Students accepted into these schools will pay much less than the cost of tuition and thus will not be as burdened with student debt.

Avoid Student Debt at Colleges with No Student Loans

February 25, 2021 2:08 PM
by Izzy Hall
Here at Scholarships.com, we connect students with scholarships that can help alleviate the amount of student loans they need to take out to pay for college. But there are colleges out there that
A great scholarship opportunity for students enrolling at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) has extended through the end of Black History Month. The Future of Stem Scholars Initiative (FOSSI) will award 150 scholarships worth $40,000 over four years as well as provide mentoring and internship opportunities to select winners. The extended deadline for this scholarship is March 1st.

Big STEM Scholarship Opportunity for HBCU Students

February 18, 2021 10:51 AM
by Izzy Hall
A great scholarship opportunity for students enrolling at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) has extended through the end of Black History Month. The Future of Stem Scholars
When you create your free scholarship search profile on Scholarships.com, you’ll want to include information such as your GPA, the academic majors you’re interested in and the colleges and universities that are on your list. But did you know that what you do outside of the classroom can help you qualify for scholarships, too? Extracurricular activities of all kinds can tie into scholarship opportunities.

Extracurricular Activities Can Win You Scholarships

February 16, 2021 4:26 PM
by Izzy Hall
When you create your free scholarship search profile on Scholarships.com, you’ll want to include information such as your GPA, the academic majors you’re interested in and the colleges and
Two TikTok Stars – Josh Richards and Griffin Johnson – are teaming up with sports social media app SporstHi to create new scholarships for underserved students. Their combined donation of $20,000 will fund four scholarships for high school athletes.

TikTok Stars Create Scholarships for High School Athletes

February 11, 2021 1:36 PM
by Izzy Hall
Two TikTok Stars – Josh Richards and Griffin Johnson – are teaming up with sports social media app SporstHi to create new scholarships for underserved students. Their combined donation of $20,000
The first week in February is known as National School Counseling Week. School counselors are an invaluable resource during your high school education and beyond. School counselors can help students discover colleges, find scholarships and offer advice on all parts of the college admissions process. They want to set you up for success in your career as a college student.

Celebrating National School Counseling Week

February 2, 2021 3:51 PM
by Izzy Hall
The first week in February is known as National School Counseling Week. School counselors are an invaluable resource during your high school education and beyond. School counselors can help students
COVID-19 vaccines are in the process of being distributed across the United States. There’s much to coordinate, between delivering vaccine dosages, scheduling vaccination appointments and actually administering the vaccine. In the state of Wisconsin, college nursing students are volunteering to help get the vaccine out.

College Students Help Administer COVID Vaccines

January 26, 2021 2:15 PM
by Izzy Hall
COVID-19 vaccines are in the process of being distributed across the United States. There’s much to coordinate, between delivering vaccine dosages, scheduling vaccination appointments and actually