Bakersfield College plans to take control of financial aid

Breanna Fields, Reporter

The Financial Aid Department recently revealed changes that will affect the amount of financial aid a student is eligible to receive over the course of a lifetime.

“The government is cracking down and trying to get more control of federal student aid,” said Joan Wegner, the director of Financial Aid at Bakersfield College. “It just went out of control with billions and billions of dollars.”

The federal government has brought on these changes due to the significant increase in financial aid funds that have been dispersed.

The Pell Grant, the most in-demand form of financial aid that is available, has shown a 49 to 50 percent increase in the number of students receiving it in recent years.

The federal government will be putting a limit on the number of full-time semesters a student can receive the Pell Grant. It had initially been 18 full-time semesters, but as the fall of 2012-13 approaches the limitation will be set at 12 full-time semesters of Pell Grant eligibility.

The Pell Grant ranges from $5,550 to $555, depending on how many units a student is enrolled in and their financial situation. A student’s eligibility for this grant is determined by a number of factors which include household size, income and assets.

Students that plan on attending community college for an extended period of time may want to reconsider.

“If a student hangs around a community college for too long, when they transfer they won’t have any more Pell Grant eligibility,” said Wegner.

After filling out the FAFSA, students will receive a student aid report that will display their remaining eligibility to receive funding through this grant.

Students will also see a change in the eligibility requirements, which, according to Wegner, will be more difficult to receive when the fall semester begins.

There are a number of other changes in the works regarding eligibility that have not been released. One qualification that we do know, however, is that students must make satisfactory academic progress, which can be maintained with the completion of 67 percent of the units attempted. Wegner assures students that more information will be available on the official BC website in the near future.

For financial aid information and notices, Wegner encourages students to check their email regularly and be aware that the priority-filing deadline for the 2012-13 school year is Mar. 2. Students that file by that date will receive an e-mail from the financial aid department letting them know what documents they must submit to complete their file.