Summer federal aid dependent on hours

Amye Buckley

Changes at the Department of Education mean additional hours for students trying to qualify for part-time or full-time status this summer.

Starting this summer part-time and full-time student definitions will be the same for all three semesters at Missouri Southern. This ups summer part-time from three hours to six and summer full-time hours from six to 12 hours.

Federal changes now require a standard definition across all three semesters, but in exchange they offer qualifying students Pell grant funds during all three semesters.

“It will be a whole new Pell cycle even if they’ve received Pell for fall and spring,” said Director of Financial Aid Kathy Feith of the upcoming changes.

Students who have not yet used their full Pell award this year may be eligible for the funds this summer, however, the three semesters of Pell grant funds will begin next year.

For summer loan programs students will be required to take six hours of classes, which may be difficult for some students.

“I understand that because we don’t always offer classes that can get that perfect six,” she said. “There are some challenges with this. It’s kind of a two-edged sword.”

Southern also made an institutional requirement for summer student workers of six hours or part-time status. During the school year student workers are typically enrolled full-time, a requirement, Feith said , is not feasible during summer.

“So we set the six as the requirement for summer just so we’d have some consistency between work study and student help,” she said.

Feith said students who opt out of summer classes will not see their loans go into repayment.

“I know change is hard,” Feith said. “But I honestly believe this is something that will benefit our student body as it progresses.”

This week 3,300 e-mails were sent out to students who need to clarify FAFSA information with the Financial Aid office. Although the April 1 FAFSA deadline for Access Missouri eligibility has passed, students can file through June 30 for fall aid.