The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Higher Education Act up for reauthorization in September

The presumed September reauthorization of the federal Higher Education

Act will likely have implications for CSUN students who receive Pell

Grants or Perkins loans, and especially those who take summer classes.

Diane Ryan, director of Financial’#8200;Aid and Scholarships,’ said

that although the act technically expired approximately one year ago,

its authority was extended and is now awaiting a more complete debate

on what should and should not be changed prior to reauthorization.

‘?The (1965) Higher Education Act is the landmark legislation that

created the framework for most of the student aid programs that are

available today,’ Ryan said. The act is reauthorized approximately

every five years.

Ryan said numerous things are discussed during the reauthorization

process, including provisions in the student loan program for both the

direct loan and the federally guaranteed Stafford Loan program.

The amount of money students can borrow on an annual basis, as well

as the amount students can receive from Pell Grants, will also be

discussed, along with how a family’s financial strength is evaluated

and how that determines financial aid eligibility.

Ryan said it is not clear at this point how CSUN’s switch to Year

Round Operations will affect financial aid awards for students, and

also that there are proposals being considered that would give

additional Pell Grant money to summer students.

According to Kevin O’ Leary, senior associate director of Financial

Aid at CSUN, it has been proposed for the next reauthorization that

Pell Grants provide funding for a full year, instead of just funding

them for two semesters.

O’Leary said additional Pell Grant funding would allow a student to

attend the CSUN in the summer, fall, and spring semesters with federal

financial support.

‘?There is strong support at this point for making the Pell Grant

available on a year round basis,’ Ryan said, adding that it is a good

sign that there is a lot of recognition that students need to attend

the university year round in order to get their degrees faster.

According to Ryan, Summer 2005 is going to be considered the first

term of the academic year instead of the last from a financial aid


‘?With the change to (Year Round Operations), we really have to focus

more intently on treating summer like a real term,’ Ryan said.

Ryan said the system as it is set up now only allows students who

receive financial aid in the summer to get what they did not use of the

fall and spring semester awards.

‘?I certainly think YRO is a good thing because it’s going to assist

students in getting through (school) quicker,’ Ryan said. ‘?That’s

important, because the longer they stay, the more money they borrow,

and debt is a big concern of ours.’

Ryan also said if things go well, additional Pell Grant funding and

State University Grants will be available to help cover the costs of

summer term.

According to Ryan, a proposal has been made as part of the Higher

Education Act’s reauthorization process to end the Perkins Loan

program. CSUN students collectively receive between $500,000 and

$750,000 annually in Perkins loans.

Additionally, the Bush administration, as parts of its most recent

budget, has planned for the gradual elimination of funding for the

Perkins loan.

According to O’Leary, borrowing limits for student aid have not

increased for approximately 15 years. This is something likely to be

addressed in the reauthorization.

‘?We’re also hoping that in the new Higher Education Act, there might

be increased borrowing limits for students’ loans,’ O’Leary said.

‘?We want those numbers to go up so students can get more money,’

O’Leary said.

Ryan said she thinks one of the main reasons for the

reauthorization’s timing is because the 40th anniversary of the act’s

initial authorization is in October.

‘?The reauthorization process can often be a very contentious process

because of all the political influence,’ Ryan said. She also said this

legislative process authorizes the programs, and a separate process

provides appropriations for those programs.

‘?They may authorize a lot of programs, but usually the level of

funding is reduced due to budgetary considerations.’ Ryan said.

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