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Business and Policy Areas
Business and Policy Areas

Pell Awards Uncertain for Next Year

February 8, 2011

The Department of Education released the annual schedule of Pell Grant awards for the 2011-12 academic year last week, projecting that the maximum award will hold steady at $5,500. Since Congress has yet to enact appropriations for the current fiscal year, however, spending cuts could still impact the awards.

The Department of Education, like much of the rest of the federal government, is operating under a continuing resolution (CR) that provides level funding for the agency and its programs through March 4. The CR provides funds to set the maximum Pell Grant award at $4,860. The College Cost Reduction and Access Act provides an additional $690 in mandatory funding for the 2011-12 award year, bringing the total to $5,500. The minimum award is set at 10 percent of the maximum, or $550.

ED is required by law to release the annual Pell Grant figures by February 1 since institutions need the information in order to provide award packages to new and continuing students this spring. These amounts are subject to change if Congress does not appropriate sufficient funds to support the Pell program. Costs of the Pell program have soared in recent years as the maximum award increased at the same time that the recession led to more students qualifying for grants.


Anne Gross
Vice President, Regulatory Affairs