The State Budget Committee last week approved a 35% increase to the maximum base-award amounts available under the Frank O’Bannon Grant. (Getty Images)
Thousands of Hoosiers will now qualify to have most or all of their college tuition and fees covered by financial aid after state leaders green-lit a request to up the number of grant dollars available to each student.
The State Budget Committee last week approved a 35% increase to the maximum base-award amounts available under the Frank O’Bannon Grant. The state’s primary need-based financial aid program annually helps around 40,000 Hoosiers afford college at both public and private institutions.
The funding increase is the largest in the award’s history, according to the Indiana Commission for Higher Education (ICHE).
The decision to further invest in the program followed a request last month from Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education Chris Lowery to increase funds distributed via the scholarships by 35%, returning them to their pre-Great Recession award levels when accounting for inflation.
The commission estimated that increase could cost the state between $170-190 million.
“I am just incredibly excited,” Lowery told the Indiana Capital Chronicle, emphasizing that the increase can help reverse Indiana’s historically low college-going rate for high school students. “With the cost of tuition and fees fully covered, that can be game changing for a student, especially those who are low- and middle-income, and whose family and loved ones are trying to figure out, ‘Can we make this affordable? Is this within reach?’”
Named after Indiana’s former Democratic governor, the Frank O’Bannon Grant program was cut significantly during the Great Recession. Current maximum award amounts are $9,200 for private institutions or $4,600 for public institutions, not far from their 2008-2009 grants for $9,160 and $5,080, respectively.
Under the approved increase, the maximum award for a student attending a public institution is $6,200 and $12,400 for a student at a private institution. Those award amounts will go into effect during the 2023-24 academic year.
When combined with the Federal Pell Grant, the Frank O’Bannon Grant will help completely cover students’ college tuition and fees.
Eligibility for the Frank O’Bannon Grant is based on financial need as determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Students do not need to apply for the grant, but they must have a current FAFSA on file for the academic year to qualify.
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