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Grant funding at COC on the rise

Increase tied to higher enrollment

Posted: April 5, 2009 1:11 a.m.
Updated: April 5, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
More students are turning to financial aid to fund their college education, resulting in a significant increase in the number of Pell Grants awarded to students, an official at College of the Canyons said Friday.

"We have seen such a huge increase in the number of eligible Pell Grant applicants that we actually went beyond what we thought we would," Tom Bilbruck, director of financial aid and scholarships for the community college, said.

To keep up with demand from students, the college approved a $2 million transfer of Pell Grant funds Wednesday.

Pell Grant funding comes from the U.S. Department of Education. Pell grants are named for the late Senator Claiborne Pell (D-Rhode Island) who sponsored legislation that created the program.

"It allows us to increase our level of grants coming out of College of the Canyons," he said.

The college has already seen a jump in the number of students enrolling during the spring semester. Early estimates indicated that enrollment could be up by at least 9 percent.

During the 2007-08 school year, the college awarded $3 million in Pell Grants.

For the 2008-09 school year, students have been given $4,458,325 in grant funding, he said. That number could hit $5 million by the end of the school year. The school is in its fifth week of the spring semester.

"We knew that we would get more students applying. We didn't know it would be at that level," Bilbruck said.

That marks a 42-percent increase in the number of students who received a Pell grant from the 2008-09 school year, he said.

The school has seen a 52-percent increase in the amount of Pell Grant funds given to students.

"With the way the economy is, a lot of students are turning to financial aid to offset the costs of college," he said.

Unlike loans, Pell Grants do not have to be repaid.

The grant provides up to $4,731 a year for 2008-09 and up to $5,350 a year for 2009-10, he said.

The amount of funding depends on the expected family contribution, cost of attendance and whether you're attending full- or part-time, he said.

Funds are used for tuition, fees and living expenses.

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