2012 - 2013 Pell Grant Eligibility

The 2012-2013 Pell Grant is available to students that have successfully completed and submitted the FAFSA either online or through regular mail.  Once the FAFSA has been submitted, your school’s financial aid office will determine if you qualify to receive a Pell Grant award.  The Pell Grant is still only available for low-income students that have a financial need.

Your EFC (Expected Family Contribution) score, which is found in the SAR (Student Aid Report) that you will receive shortly after you’ve submitted the FAFSA application, will determine if you are eligible for a Pell Grant.  The lower your EFC score, the better your chances are to receive a Pell Grant.  The Expected Family Contribution score takes into account your income, family assets, cost of attendance, and the number of family members in college, which all had to be provided with your FAFSA application, to determine your Pell Grant eligibility.
The maximum Pell Grant award amount for the 2012-2013 school year is $5,550. 
The income threshold for an automatic zero expected family contribution (EFC) has been reduced from $30,000 to $23,000 for the 2012-2013 award year for both dependent and independent students. This means that students with an income level of $30,000 for the 2011-2012 school year are no longer eligible for an automatic zero EFC and may not receive the maximum Pell Grant award amount.

Another Pell Grant change for the 2012-2013 school year is that the maximum semesters a student is eligible to receive the Pell Grant has been lowered from 18 semesters to 12 semesters.  This will impact working students the most, since it takes them longer to complete their education due to other obligations and responsibilities.   This change in the duration of students’ Federal Pell Grant eligibility is not limited only to students who received their first Federal Pell Grant on or after the 2008-2009 award year.

The last major 2012-2013 Pell Grant eligibility change is that students must now have a high school diploma from an accredited secondary high school or equivalent, such as a GED, in order to receive a Pell Grant.  The law makes an exception for students who have completed a secondary school education in a home school setting that is treated as a home school or private school under State law.  Students who do not have a high school diploma or a recognized equivalent (GED), or do not meet the home school requirements, and who first enroll in a program of study on or after July 1, 2012, will not be eligible to receive Title IV student aid. Students will qualify for Title IV student aid under one of the ability-to-benefit (ATB) alternatives if the student was enrolled in a Title IV eligible program prior to July 1, 2012. Those alternatives include the student passing an independently administered, approved ATB test or successfully completing at least six credit hours or 225 clock hours of postsecondary education.

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Pell Grant Application