Wiregrass is participating in an experimental financial aid program

September 4, 2012

Valdosta, GA— The Federal Pell Grant program is conducting an experiment with a select few colleges across the country and Wiregrass Georgia Technical College is one of them. The Pell Grant program is a type of post-secondary, educational federal grant program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education. Currently, students are not eligible to receive the Federal Pell Grant if they already have a bachelor’s degree or higher, or if they are enrolled in short term certificate programs that do not meet the minimum credit hours required under the current Pell structure. For about a year, an experiment will be conducted at a handful of colleges to see if there is a need for reform to the current program requirements.

Students wishing to enter into the health care science certificate, phlebotomy technician certificate, emergency medical services (EMS) diploma, business administrative technology diploma, and the telecommunications and security technology diploma, who already have a bachelor’s degree may be eligible to receive the Pell Grant. Students who already have a bachelor’s degree, are admitted to the program, and can prove that they are underemployed or unemployed will be asked to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). If the student is Pell approved under the current regulations, minus the bachelor degree limitation, they will then be entered into a lottery style drawing to see if they are chosen to receive Pell funds to pay for their tuition, fees and books. This part of the experiment is to establish whether or not there is a significant need to help individuals retrain to be able to re-enter the workforce.

The second part of the experiment is for short term certificate programs that under the current regulations are not Pell eligible programs. Students who are admitted into the commercial truck driving certificate, patient care assistant certificate, and the general construction assistant certificate programs will also be asked to complete the FAFSA. If they are Pell approved, they will be entered into the lottery selection and have the chance to be approved through the experiment for Pell funding to pay for their tuition, fees, and books. This could make a significant impact on the students entering the commercial truck driving program. The commercial truck driving program has a higher than average tuition structure due to the expenses associated with maintaining the equipment. The changes to the HOPE Grant last year left many with out of pocket costs that were not affordable, and the program has never been a Pell eligible program. This experiment will provide some students entering the program with financial aid that they would not have had access to before.

In both parts of the experiment, the selection for participating will be done by the U.S. Department of Education in a lottery method. While not every applicant will be chosen to receive the Pell Grant, the experiment creates an opportunity for a student to potentially receive enough financial aid to cover their college expenses. At the end of the experiment, the Federal Pell Grant program will be evaluated to see if reform is needed.

Students can begin applying for the programs mentioned above now and enter some of the classes for B Term of Fall Semester that begins on October 22. To find out more about the new Federal Pell Grant experiment, please contact a Wiregrass Georgia Technical College financial aid counselor at any campus location. Students can begin applying now for the B Term session.