Eastern Gateway Community College is not permitted to disburse Pell Grants to new students accepted for enrollment in its free online program for union members this fall, according to a U.S. Education Department spokesperson.
This news comes days after Eastern Gateway reported that it could enroll students and just over one week after the Education Department told the institution to stop enrolling students. At the heart of the matter is a July 18 letter the Education Department sent to Eastern Gateway indicating that the college had violated federal financial aid rules by using some students’ Pell Grant funds to essentially subsidize the enrollment of other students who do not qualify for federal aid.
Eastern Gateway said in a press release on its website that it would adhere to the latest suspension.
“After thorough discussion with college legal counsel and the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, the college has concluded that it is in the best interest of EGCC to move forward only by exercising an abundance of caution,” the press release said. “As such, and until EGCC receives the responses from [the Education Department], the college is temporarily suspending new enrollments in the Free College Benefit for Fall 2022.”
An Education Department spokesperson provided Inside Higher Ed the following statement:
“The U.S. Department of Education’s goal is to minimize disruption to students as we assess the impact of Eastern Gateway Community College’s (EGCC’s) treatment of students from low-income backgrounds who are eligible for Federal Pell Grants. As our oversight work continues, EGCC is not permitted to disburse Federal Pell Grant funds to any new students accepted for enrollment in the Free College Benefit Program after July 18, 2022, until it is redesigned to comply with federal student aid laws and regulations. We have provided EGCC further clarification about currently enrolled students who plan to continue their studies this fall.”