A proposed budget cut recently released by U.S. House Republicans will restrict eligibility for Pell Grants, a form of financial aid that provides need-based grants to undergraduate students.

Under the plan, the required maximum family income to qualify will be cut in half to $15,000.

Although the draft legislation proposes that the maximum Pell Grant award of $5,550 be maintained, Elon students who are currently receiving the grant or prospective students who would rely on the grant will feel the affects of the restricted eligibility.

Eleven percent of Elon's student body receives the Pell Grant in some amount, according to Patrick Murphy, the director of financial planning at Elon. To be eligible for the grant, students must first file the FAFSA. The expected family contribution number that the government calculates determines whether the student receives the grant.

"Sometimes people are under the misconception that the school determines who gets it, and how much, but it is really from a chart from the government," Murphy said. "We're just getting the number they're feeding us and looking at the menu to determine how much the grant is."

It is hard to know exactly how students will be affected by the cut, because there are a lot of unknowns when it comes to who will still be eligible, Murphy said.

"What they are going to do is probably change the income ranges that are looked at," he said. "There's a lot of calculations behind the scenes that go into determining an expected family contribution, so it's not easy for us to say if your income goes from this to this you're going to lose your eligibility. With the environment in DC being so partisan, it's hard to figure out what they're going to do."

Even students who are automatically eligible for the Pell Grant could lose their aid. Currently, students whose family income is $31,000 or less qualify for an automatic zero, which means they receive some form of the grant regardless of other circumstances.

More students will be affected by the eligibility restrictions this year than in years past, Murphy said. Over the past three or four years, the number of students at Elon who receive the Pell grant has increased from 6 to 11 percent. The increase has to do with a number of factors, one being that Elon has a more diverse student body than it used to.

"If they do cut the eligibility, it will hurt some of the diverse population," Murphy said.

Tom Tiemann, professor of economics, said increasing the diversity of the student body will become more challenging if the bill is passed. Whether Elon will reach into its own budget to make up for the loss in government funding will be a determining factor, he said.

"Here's a source of need based aid that doesn't have to come out of Elon's pocket," Tiemann said. "So either Elon is going to have to replace it, or we are going to have to change our target."

Although the cut may cause Elon to re-evaluate some of its proposed construction projects, a tuition raise is unlikely, Tiemann said.

"If they are going to try to replace the Pell Grants, they are going to have to find the money somewhere," he said. "They are even going to have to cut some programs or raise tuition. But we don't do that a whole lot here. It would be a real change in strategy."