Pell Grant increase may draw students to NU

By Chris Estrada

A possible $100 increase in the Pell Grant may have the effect of eventually guiding future students to Northeastern, said Dean of Student Financial Affairs Seamus Harreys.

The bill proposing the increase, which was approved in June by a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee, also contains federal funding for high school mentoring and college preparatory programs. With Northeastern helping out in programs such as Gear Up, which works to put middle schoolers in the Boston Public Schools on the track to college, Harreys said he believes the possibility of extra cash in the Pell Grant would be “a good start,” for future recruitment.

“It wouldn’t really affect the students at Northeastern now, but it can have an effect on the future students at this school,” he said.

However, Harreys said the Pell Grant must increase drastically to catch up with the rising tide of students coming into higher education from all income groups. In the past six years, the maximum amount of aid from the Pell Grant has only crept up from $3,900 in 1999 to $4,050 this year, Harreys said.

“While the increase benefits students that can put it with any other form of financial aid … the Pell Grant still has not changed much in the last six years,” Harreys said. “The Pell hasn’t kept pace with the costs out there. It’s very unique and it helps a lot of students, but it has not increased the access to low-income students in any form of higher education.”

Student Government Association (SGA) Vice President for Financial Affairs Chris Kelley said the possible increase would affect how SGA deals with university administration over financial aid and how the organization will attempt to rally people around the new money.

“We work a lot with different administrations in knowing what’s up in the state, federal and local governments,” Kelley said. “We’ll set up plans where the legislation comes in and figure out what moves the SGA and my office need to take.”

Kelley said he sees the current state of financial aid as a “big problem.” The problem is also personal for him.

“The rate of increase is not nearly fast enough,” he said. “My father went to college and the government paid for most of it. He would not have gone there without the money that the state and federal government gave him.”

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