Enrollment and Student Aid on the Rise at Pierpont Community and Technical College

Enrollment and Student Aid on the Rise at Pierpont Community and Technical College

Enrollment and Student Aid on the Rise at Pierpont Community and Technical College
 
FAIRMONT — At Pierpont Community and Technical College's Board of Governor's meeting Tuesday afternoon, it was announced that the school helped students attain $10.5 million in financial aid during the 2017-2018 school year, while student enrollment has increased this year by more than 400 people.
 
Lyla Grandstaff, Pierpont's vice president of enrollment services, said that the rise in student aid was a conscious effort to decrease the student loan default rate at the college. According to a summary provided in the meeting's agenda, the default percentage has lowered from 27.6 percent in 2013 to 24.7 percent in 2015, 2015 being the most recent complete data due to the school's three-year cohort.
 
“We’ve been educating our students and making sure they’ve been maximizing Pell and ‘pre-money’ so to speak, and really educating them on student loans and the impact that student loans have,” Grandstaff said. “We’re taking each student and saying ‘Did you know about this scholarship? Are you maximizing your Pell Grant?’ We’re really looking at money for students so loans are their last resort.”
 
In all, students were given $10,554,953 in aid over the 2017-2018 school year, with the highest single source coming from Federal Pell Grants with more than $3.2 million. While While more than $5 million was given through federal loans - both subsidized and unsubsidized - Grandstaff said that the college tries ever other method of funding before resort to loans.
 
“We’re very student-centered, and as a community college, we’ve always had the cost in mind for our students,” Grandstaff said. “Because they started at a community college, they might go right in and out into the workforce and have that debt to start paying… It impacts their education, we want to make sure they’re maximizing their financial aid packaging but limiting the amount of loans…
 
“West Virginia has the highest student loan debt in the nation. We’re trying to do our part to make sure that West Virginia doesn’t continue to be at that level.”
 
Following in the effort to be more student-centered, it was also made knows during the meeting that Pierpont's attendance has grown to just under 2,300, an increase over last school year's 1,875. Pierpont President Dr. Johnny Moore attributed the school's attendance growth to its recent effort to become more student friendly.
 
“We’re becoming a more student-centered institution,” Moore said. “There are a number of things that we’ve put into place and I think students can now easily get schedules based on their life. If they have a job, now they can quickly find classes because they’re available. In the past, we didn’t have those opportunities for our students.”
 
Moore said that the key is in retaining students, and in the past, the administration has simply put a bandage over problems in order to fix them. Now, officials are doing their best to be proactive and change the mistakes made when the community colleges broke away from four-year institutions.
 
 “Think about how we originated,” Moore said. “Not just Pierpont, but all community colleges were a part of a university, so when there was a split, how did you think we operated? But we’re not a university. We’re a community college. Community colleges were designed to be affordable, flexible and accessible, and that’s what we’re doing.”
 
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