Stimulus package will benefit students

by Emily SchettlerCopy Editor

The federal stimulus bill signed by President Barack Obama last week included $56.3 million in programs for higher education. While a lot of that money will go to state universities and community colleges, Simpson College students can expect to see some benefits.

Students who qualify for the Pell Grant will reap the greatest benefits. That program saw an increase of $16 billion.

“This is a huge increase, billions of dollars,” Gary Steinke, president of the Iowa Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, said. “Pell hasn’t been increased by that amount of money in a number of years, a tremendous benefit.”

Previously, students who qualified could receive up to $4731. The stimulus package increased that amount to $5350. Tracie Pavon, director of financial assistance, explained that the increase of $619 would completely offset Simpson’s tuition increase for next year for students eligible for the maximum amount of the grant.

In addition to an increase in Pell Grants, students may also be eligible for increased tax credits and Simpson will likely receive more funding for its work-study program.

The Senate version of the bill also included an increase for Perkins Loans, which are specifically for students attending private colleges, but that portion did not make it into the final package.

Pavon said that despite some pieces being cut, the bill was an overall success for colleges and universities.

“It was a good stride, but there were some pieces that got left out,” she said. “Overall, I think higher education was a winner.”