Year-round Pell is back for 2017-18. This is good news for Pell-eligible students who want to attend in the summer to accelerate their progress toward graduation. According to Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, “this decision is about empowering students and giving them flexibility and support needed to achieve their goals. Expanding access to the Pell Grant program, so that students who need additional resources can graduate more quickly and with less debt.”
Year-round Pell allows students to receive up to 150% of a regular grant award over the course of an award year so they can continue taking classes in the summer and finish their degrees faster than they would otherwise. This change also gives the U.S. Department of Education a second shot at implementing year-round Pell grants. Congress previously approved year-round Pell in the 2008 Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act only to take it away three years later due to funding shortfalls in the program and claims that the program was ineffective.
The Credit-Hour Earned Requirement
When year-round Pell was first enacted back in 2009-10, there was no credit- hour earned requirement to be eligible and students could use up to 200% of the maximum yearly Pell. This changed for 2010-11. In 2010-11, the Department issued a credit hour earned requirement to the program. If the student started receiving FT Pell in fall 2010, they had to earn enough credits during the fall and winter and be registered for enough in summer to put them over 24 credits for the award year. For example, if a student received FT Pell in fall and spring, and earned 8 hours for fall and 12 hours for spring, and was registered for 8 for summer, they would be eligible for more than the 100% Pell award. If they earned 8 hours for fall, 8 hours for spring, and registered for 8 for summer they would not be eligible because that is less than the 24 required credits. Having to monitor credit hours earned turned this from a positive to a negative for most financial aid offices and institutions as a whole as it added another regulation to monitor.
As of right now, there is no credit-hour earned requirement for the new year-round Pell. With the administration’s claims of wanting to do away with over-burdensome regulations, we’ll have to watch and see if the credit-hour earned requirement is truly a thing of the past.
150% Versus 200%
Another way that year-round Pell is different now is that students will only be allowed to use 150% of their Pell award when they could use 200% back in 2010-11. In 10-11, if a student started in summer 2010, they could receive 50% (of yearly amount per semester) FT Pell in summer 10, fall 10, spring 11, and summer 11, which equated to 200% at schools that had three 15 week semesters per year and who allowed students to be paid from either award year during the summer crossover. Again, we’ll have to watch and see if it will be expanded to that in summer 2018 for students who first started receiving Pell 17-18 in summer 2017.
Keeping an Eye on Compliance
Year-round Pell offers students the opportunity for students to graduate faster with lower student loan debt. And it offers financial aid administrators relief from some of the monitoring and regulatory compliance. HEAG will continue to bring you the latest information as it comes available. In the meantime, please contact us if you need assistance with your financial aid compliance.