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Old 09-22-2013, 11:42 AM
 
624 posts, read 749,596 times
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After being laid off from a job and trying unsuccessfully to find good work without a degree, I went back to college in 2010 after a 25-year absence to finish a Bachelor's. Because of a long period of unemployment, I qualified for and depended on Pell grants to finish school, but had to quit my program halfway through when the 6-year cutoff was enacted by Congress. I now have student loan debt that I am struggling to repay and have no degree or enhanced prospects to show for my effort.

I hit the 6 year limit because I had wasted some time in my late teens, taking classes with no idea what I really wanted to do with my life. As an older, much wiser adult ready to devote myself to personal advancement, I am now in a real jam. I have met other middle aged adults in the same situation, and it really doesn't seem fair that people our age who need the second chance so many years later are not grandfathered in around the new rule since it took effect while we were actively attending school.

What do you think? Should students, of any age, have been cut off from need-based aid mid-way through a degree program?
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Old 09-22-2013, 12:28 PM
 
Location: southwestern PA
20,426 posts, read 35,751,613 times
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Yes.
Six years should be enough time to use free taxpayer money.
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Old 09-22-2013, 12:45 PM
 
24,511 posts, read 34,150,388 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slithytoves View Post
What do you think? Should students, of any age, have been cut off from need-based aid mid-way through a degree program?
I feel that educational funding should be based on merit and progress and not have a hard 6-year cap. However, it would be rare that one would be in school for longer than 6 years and still meet the progress eligibility.

Pell grants should be completely scrapped. In it's place should be low-rate student loans (a flat 5% or something).
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Old 09-22-2013, 02:12 PM
 
624 posts, read 749,596 times
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Originally Posted by Pitt Chick View Post
Yes.
Six years should be enough time to use free taxpayer money.
Thank you for your honest opinion. Two points:

Six years may not necessarily be enough. When I was young I was only going to school half time because I had to babysit my younger sisters while my mother was at work. The six years doesn't take that into account. A four year degree at half time, with no classes wasted, can take 7 to 8 years.

Secondly, I have worked all my life, except for three years of unemployment during the last recession/more recently due to a layoff, and have paid way more taxes into the system than I ever took in Pell grants or unemployment benefits. When I eventually get my degree I will (hopefully) be paying more in taxes as my income increases with my credentials. I get a little tired of being told that I am spending other people's money when I take advantage of public provisions to improve my life and make me a better contributor to the economy. Am I not supposed to get something for my tax money, too?

Last edited by Slithytoves; 09-22-2013 at 02:20 PM..
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Old 09-22-2013, 02:19 PM
 
624 posts, read 749,596 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NJBest View Post
I feel that educational funding should be based on merit and progress and not have a hard 6-year cap. However, it would be rare that one would be in school for longer than 6 years and still meet the progress eligibility.

Pell grants should be completely scrapped. In it's place should be low-rate student loans (a flat 5% or something).
See my previous post to Pitt Chick about half time students. Cases of 7-8 year Bachelor's completion, especially for low income or working people, is not as rare as one would think. I totally agree with you about merit, though. At least a B average would not be too much to ask, nor would a restriction on electives and changes of major.

I also don't disagree with you about scrapping the program for an altèrnative plan of some sort, except that I fear it might only contribute to the number of student loan defaults, which are currently costing more than the Pell grant. I would have no problem repaying Pell money by working for the government or a nonprofit at a slightly lower rate for a period of time after graduation. Maybe something like that would work?
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Old 09-22-2013, 02:19 PM
 
Location: southwestern PA
20,426 posts, read 35,751,613 times
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Okay... but you had six years of free money.

Now you can take out loans, like most kids do now.
Or work your way through school, like many others do.

Many students never got ANY Pell grants... you had six years worth. I would be counting my blessings, instead of complaining that it's not fair (which you did in your first post).
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Old 09-22-2013, 02:44 PM
 
12,455 posts, read 27,089,579 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slithytoves View Post
Thank you for your honest opinion. Two points:

Six years may not necessarily be enough. When I was young I was only going to school half time because I had to babysit my younger sisters while my mother was at work. The six years doesn't take that into account. A four year degree at half time, with no classes wasted, can take 7 to 8 years.

Secondly, I have worked all my life, except for three years of unemployment during the last recession/more recently due to a layoff, and have paid way more taxes into the system than I ever took in Pell grants or unemployment benefits. When I eventually get my degree I will (hopefully) be paying more in taxes as my income increases with my credentials. I get a little tired of being told that I am spending other people's money when I take advantage of public provisions to improve my life and make me a better contributor to the economy. Am I not supposed to get something for my tax money, too?
Sounds like you are doing the best you can and I agree with you that people in your position should have been grandfathered in. Congress always seems to assume that people are trying to game the system instead of making rules that make sense.
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Old 09-22-2013, 03:34 PM
 
624 posts, read 749,596 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pitt Chick View Post
Okay... but you had six years of free money.

Now you can take out loans, like most kids do now.
Or work your way through school, like many others do.

Many students never got ANY Pell grants... you had six years worth. I would be counting my blessings, instead of complaining that it's not fair (which you did in your first post).
There aren't many blessings to count since the money I took in good faith hasn't resulted in the degree they are meant to facilitate...through no fault of my own but rather by a sweeping decision by the government. Thus my statement that it isn't very fair. Add to this a complaint that the government has consequentially wasted the money if I or others in my position can't finish our degrees. That's not very cost-effective for anybody.

I have taken out student loans, as I said in my original post. If I take out much more I fear I may never be able to repay them. I am trying to be responsible here. My point was that it seems unfair to cut off students who were enrolled at the time the law passed. Unfair to the students, and for that matter, unfair to taxpayers like yourself who are concerned about how their tax dollars are being spent.
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Old 09-22-2013, 03:37 PM
 
624 posts, read 749,596 times
Reputation: 973
Quote:
Originally Posted by toobusytoday View Post
Sounds like you are doing the best you can and I agree with you that people in your position should have been grandfathered in. Congress always seems to assume that people are trying to game the system instead of making rules that make sense.
Thank you.
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Old 09-22-2013, 05:35 PM
 
24,511 posts, read 34,150,388 times
Reputation: 12779
Quote:
Originally Posted by Slithytoves View Post
See my previous post to Pitt Chick about half time students. Cases of 7-8 year Bachelor's completion, especially for low income or working people, is not as rare as one would think. I totally agree with you about merit, though. At least a B average would not be too much to ask, nor would a restriction on electives and changes of major.

I also don't disagree with you about scrapping the program for an altèrnative plan of some sort, except that I fear it might only contribute to the number of student loan defaults, which are currently costing more than the Pell grant. I would have no problem repaying Pell money by working for the government or a nonprofit at a slightly lower rate for a period of time after graduation. Maybe something like that would work?
Realistically, I have no problem with using taxpayer money to invest in higher education and academia. But handing money out to people without meeting minimal criteria is concerning. The less money that is wasted through financial aid programs, the more money there is for people like you who are trying to get educated.

We need to make sure the criteria is set in such a manner that we're investing in students that are most likely to use their education and give back to society. These might include:

- 3.5+ GPA
- Strong urge to continue within academia and/or research and not use college as a 4-year workforce entrance exam.
- Strong urge to obtain a terminal degree (whether it be masters, phD or others)
- publication requirements

There's a discussion going on right now to make it easier for students to continue education by making it easier for them to pay off their loans. The idea is to have regressive interest rates. Start at 9% in the beginning. When you get your bachelors, it gets knocked down to 7% (on all your loans). When you get your masters (or complete qualifying exam) it gets knocked down to 5% (on all your loans). When you complete a terminal degree it gets knocked down to 3% (on all your loans). That way, by the time you enter the workforce, you have a 3% interest rate unless you decide to leave college early.
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