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      Will Pell grants become a thing of the past?

      For community colleges like Bay West in Iron Mountain, the majority of students are there for continuing education, and many of them are getting help paying for school from Uncle Sam.

      Bay West Executive Dean Dr. Patrick Kennedy estimates that two-thirds of his students rely on federal Pell grants to pay for college.

      "These programs help our students, help residents of this area to get to school and to get the training they need to get into the workforce," said Kennedy.

      But that funding is in danger of being cut. The congressional debt commission is expected to consider cuts to the Federal Pell Grant Program to help reduce the country's rising debt|a looming reality that worries Kennedy.

      "It will have an impact on our ability to serve the students in our area, serve our employers and business industry, he said. It will have an impact on people's ability to come through here."

      Even though two-thirds of the students at Bay College West rely on Pell grants, some feel that potential cuts to the program could actually benefit the college.

      "The economic impact could actually be more on the positive side," said Bruce Orttenburger, the President of the Dickinson Area Partnership.

      The partnership works to improve the local economy. He said if Pell grants are cut, a different type of student could become the majority at Bay West.

      "The option of perhaps going to Bay for a couple of years and then transferring to another college, a four-year college, now becomes more of a significant opportunity," Orttenburger said.

      Pell grant cuts will likely be tackled when the congressional debt commission meets this fall.