Nearly 200 University of Pittsburgh at Bradford students from the six-county region will have their Pell grants doubled when they return to school in the fall.
Last week, officials from the University of Pittsburgh announced the creation of the Pitt Success Pell Match Program, which will match dollar for dollar the Pell grant amount students receive. The program, which will begin this fall, will benefit current students as well as new students who enroll this fall and receive a Pell grant.
One of the students who will benefit from the new program is Candy Vasquez, a sophomore from Port Allegany who is studying sociology.
“My road to success cannot be traveled if the funding for paving my path is not in hand,” she said. “College funding is the dry patch of grass in my big field of dreams.”
Vasquez said both of those ideas sum up her life. “Basically, with more money, I will be able to further my education without an absurd amount of debt.”
The U.S. Department of Education’s Pell Grant program provides need-based grants — money that does not have to be paid back — to help promote access to postsecondary education for the neediest students. Students whose total family income is $50,000 a year or less qualify. In addition to income, grant amounts depend on several other factors, including the cost of attendance and if the student will attend full or part time.
For Pitt-Bradford students from McKean, Elk, Potter, Cameron, Forest and Warren counties, the average Pell grant award was $4,538 and the total amount awarded was $450,992 for the 2018-19 academic year.
Overall, 38 percent of Pitt-Bradford’s students receive a Pell grant. However, that percentage is significantly higher for students from the region. In McKean County, 46.3 percent of students receive a Pell grant, Elk County, 41 percent; Potter County, 53.3 percent; Warren County, 50 percent; Cameron County, 50 percent; and Forest County, 33.3 percent.
“This new Pitt Success Pell Match Program will have an enormous impact on our students from the region,” said Lawrence Feick, Pitt-Bradford’s interim president. “Receiving matching Pell grant dollars will lighten their financial burden, reduce the amount of money they need to borrow, and ultimately help them achieve their Pitt degree with less debt when they graduate.”
This new program will not only benefit current Pitt-Bradford students but incoming students as well, according to Dr. James Baldwin, vice president for enrollment management.
“The Pell Match program opens the door to many prospective students with the desire and the qualifications to be able to attend and be more successful.”