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
‘?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
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
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,’
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.