Anyone currently unemployed who is interested in attending college may be eligible
for financial assistance from the federal government. Assistance ranges from grants
and loans to work-study programs.
Eligibility for some assistance, such as Pell Grants and work-study programs, is need-based
and is determined by total household income. Federal student loans are available regardless
of income level. Other criteria for such assistance include (1) being a U.S. citizen,
(2) having a high school diploma or GED equivalency, and (3) not being in default
on any other student loan. Students must also meet regular admissions criteria.
In May 2009 the federal government made an additional $17 billion in Pell Grant money
available in hopes that many unemployed Americans would take advantage of educational
and training opportunities. Pell Grants are available only to students who have not
already earned a bachelor’s degree. Because Pell Grant assistance is need-based, amounts
vary by individual and are only determined after submission of a FAFSA (Free Application
for Federal Student Aid). The maximum Pell Grant award for the 2009-2010 academic
year is $5,350. Federally-funded student loans vary in amount and are available to
both undergraduate and graduate students.
“Many people are having a difficult time finding work right now,” said Dr. Shirley
Raines, president of the University of Memphis. “We want them to know that financial
assistance is available should they desire to return to school.”
Applications for both the FAFSA and financial aid are available from the University
of Memphis at financialaid.memphis.edu. More information about federal financial aid is also available online at www.opportunity.gov and www.federalstudentaid.ed.gov.