19 Mar Pell and Year Round Pell Eligibility – What Has and Has Not Changed

by Stacey Musulin, Assistant Director, CSCU System Office

In June 2017, the Department of Education announced  that effective the 2017-2018 award year (which began July 1, 2017), eligible students may receive up to 150% of their Pell Grant Scheduled Awards (or Iraq & Afghanistan Service Grants) in a single award year. This is alternatively known as “Year-Round Pell,” or “YRP,” since it allows certain students to receive Pell Grant throughout the year.

Previously, students could only have up to 100% of their Scheduled Awards in a single aid year. Once the Scheduled Awards were fully disbursed, there was no eligibility remaining for a subsequent term. The new rule allows for Additional Eligibility beyond the previous annual limit, for an additional 50% of the Scheduled Award. To receive the Pell Grant Additional Eligibility, students must be enrolled at least ½ time during the period in which the additional eligibility (anything over the original 100%) is granted. (Note: There is no additional progression requirement as there was in the previous YRP rules.)

In October 2017, the Common Origination and Disbursement system (COD) updated capability for 150% Pell eligibility using a new “Additional Eligibility Indicator” (AEI) field in the CRPGxxIN and CRPGxxOP message classes. COD must receive the correct Additional Eligibility Indicator value in order to process YRP eligibility correctly. This is particularly important for students who transfer between institutions within the aid year. Without the AEI, COD would not know whether student disbursement records should represent an annual maximum of 100% or 150%. (Recall that not all students will qualify for YRP.) Schools must ensure that any information system they use to award and disburse Pell Grant is updated to account for these changes.

There were no updates made to Pell calculation formulas (e.g., 2017-2018 Pell Tables) or other rules regarding Pell eligibility. The following rules are still in place:

  • Students may not receive Pell at two different schools for the same payment period
    • Colleges will still receive notifications from the Common Origination and Disbursement system (COD) about potential concurrent awards in COD files (PGMR##OP)
  • Students may not receive over 100% of their Scheduled Awards in a given aid year (Unless they are at least half-time for that additional aid period, in which case they cannot exceed 150% of their Scheduled Award)
    • Colleges will still receive notifications of potential overawards in excess of the 100% or 150% limits (Potential Overpayment Project records, AKA “POPs”) in PGPO##OP files from COD.
  • Pell Grant lifetime limits remain at 600% (the equivalent of six years full-time grant), and Pell Additional Eligibility counts toward the Lifetime Eligibility Used (LEU) maximum limit.
  • All Pell eligibility calculation rules apply to transfer students, whose previous Pell awards at other schools are viewable in COD as well as in the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS)
    • Note: COD information may be more up-to-date than that in NSLDS
  • Pell recalculation is still required when:
    • There are changes to the EFC or other eligibility factors (e.g., C-flags)
    • Students do not begin enough classes to qualify for Pell
      • This includes situations in the Additional Eligibility period in which students do not begin enough courses to qualify for the extra 50% (recall that students must be ½-time to qualify).
    • Schools have policy to recalculate eligibility for a payment period after a specific date (i.e., a “Census” or “Pell Recalculation Date”). In these situations:
      • Students who do not have eligibility calculated as of the Census date will have eligibility calculated as of the initial calculation date (e.g., late applicants).
      • Changes to enrollment after the Census/freeze date do not require recalculation, unless students do not complete the payment period and R2T4 is required.
  • For Pell eligibility, schools still have the option to assign a term that crosses over two aid years to the aid year that will most benefit an individual student.
    • For example, if you are a semester school with fall, spring, and summer terms, you could determine Pell eligibility for the Summer (“crossover”) payment period using whichever is the lower EFC in adjoining aid years. If a student’s 2018-2019 EFC is lower than her 2017-2018 EFC, you could calculate Pell based on the later aid year’s EFC, even if a Summer 2018 term is generally considered a “trailer” at your institution.
    • This capability is left to schools’ discretion. It should be addressed in your policy and procedure for awarding Pell Grant.For additional information, see the Federal Student Aid Handbook, Volume 3, Chapter 3: Calculating Pell and Ira & Afghanistan Service Grant Awards.