GALLUP –An adjustment to the federal Pell Grant program is likely to impact thousands of college students nationwide who are receiving financial aid, as it reduces the number of semesters students are eligible to receive the award.
At the University of New Mexico-Gallup, Financial Aid advisors are notifying students of these changes, and warning some that they may find they have already exhausted their awards when they enroll in the fall.
The Pell Grant, which grew out of federal legislation of the late 1960s that provided funds for low-income students to attend college, currently allows students to use the grant for a total of 18 semesters. Starting in the fall of this year, or after July 1, students may receive the grant for only 12 semesters, or the equivalent of six years. That means if a student was enrolled for a minimum of 12 credits any semester prior to Fall 2012, that semester will be counted toward the maximum total allowed. Students enrolled for less than 12 credits during any one semester will be calculated at a part-time rate. The Pell
Grants are available only for the fall and spring semesters.
The change affects any student using Title IV funding attending any college or university in the country. All colleges and universities will be monitoring students’ Pell awards throughout their academic history through a national website.
Students who enroll for the fall semester who have previously been awarded Pell Grants should discuss with a Financial Aid representative how much longer they are eligible to receive the funding, as well as alternative types of funding, such as student loans or scholarships.
This month the Department of Education began sending emails to all 2012-2013 FAFSA applicants who appear to be nearing their lifetime limit. Students may also view their percentage of Pell grant used by logging into www.NSLDS.ed.gov.
For more information on the new Pell Grant rules, UNM-Gallup students may contact Financial Aid at 505.863.7663.