ED Provides Guidance for End of Year-Round Pell
May 4, 2011
When Congress finally finished its work on the federal budget for FY2011 in mid-April, the maximum award under the Pell Grant program was maintained at the current $5,550. Pell spending will be kept in check by eliminating a relatively new enhancement to the program allowing students who accelerate their programs to receive more than one Pell grant within an award year. The Obama administration’s budget proposal for next year, FY2012, had recommended elimination of this benefit, commonly referred to as “year-round Pell,” arguing that it had proven much more expensive than expected and noting that evidence of its impact was weak.
A Dear Colleague letter (P-11-02) issued by the Department of Education on April 27 provides guidance to institutions on the phase-out of the provision allowing students to receive more than one Pell in an award year. For academic periods starting on or after July 1, 2011, students will no longer be able to get more than one Pell award. Students will still be eligible for a second Pell, however, for summer sessions that begin before, and end after, July 1. Such terms are known as crossover periods because they span two award years. Current ED rules require institutions to assign a student who is eligible for a second Pell grant for a crossover period to the award year that would result in the larger grant for that period. But, with a second Pell award no longer available in award year (AY) 2011-12, students run the risk of using up their Pell eligibility during summer and fall terms—and having none left for the spring term—if the crossover period is assigned to AY2011-12. Therefore, as directed by Congress, the ED letter allows institutions to disregard the crossover regulation and choose the award year to which they assign Pell awards for this summer’s crossover periods.
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