Returning students who have previous degrees may soon be eligible for Federal Pell Grants to help pay for career retraining or certificate programs at Lewis and Clark Community College.

While previously, students who already had degrees were not eligible for Federal Pell Grants, and had to rely on loans, scholarships or paying for school out of pocket, the U.S. Department of Education is currently conducting research to determine whether this new eligibility can increase their employability and/or decrease federal student loan debt.

L&C has been chosen as a pilot site for this initiative, which will help students who already have bachelor’s or associate degrees, but who are unemployed or underemployed, pay for and return to school to pursue a new degree or certificate program.

During the pilot program, randomly selected students will be able to receive grants to cover up to one year toward completing their new degree or certificate, which must be earned in one to two years.

“There’s now a chance for many students to receive federal grant funding to further their education and increase their employability through this Federal Pell program. Lewis and Clark’s participation in this initiative will help provide the necessary data for the U.S. Department of Education to determine if awarding the Federal Pell Grant to students meeting these criteria if viable,” said Angela Weaver, director of Financial Aid at Lewis and Clark.

Eligible students will be randomly chosen for this pilot program by the Department of Education and must plan to begin their program at Lewis and Clark any time beginning in 2014.

“We’re pleased that we were selected by the Department of Education to take part in this experimental program. This experiment will provide a Pell grant to several students who were not eligible in the past,” said Kent Scheffel, Vice President of Enrollment at L&C. “We’re hoping the experiment will prove successful and all eligible students will have the opportunity to receive funding in the future.”

For more information, please contact the Financial Aid office at (618) 468-2223.

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