The approval of Year Round Pell Grants came as a surprise to many and software vendors are clamoring for ED to provide technical specs to accommodate the changes in processing it will require. According to an electronic announcement, the Department is working on tech specs and will be providing them later this year. The Department said that it will be updating COD during October 13-15, 2017 to allow schools to submit Pell Grant Records in excess of 100 percent of a Pell Grant Scheduled Award. Until then, schools can report summer 2017 and Fall 2017 disbursements for the 2017-2018 Award Year. Until COD is updated, these awards and disbursements will be limited to 100% of the Pell Grant Scheduled Award. After October 15, 2017 schools will be able to report updated information to indicate that a student is eligible to receive up to 150% of his or her Pell Grant Scheduled Award, and make award and disbursement adjustments as needed.
Year Round Pell Grants made big news last month when President Trump signed an Omnibus Appropriations Bill into law which included more than 1.3 Billion in funding to restore the program.
The return of year round Pell comes just in time for summer 2017 and expands Pell eligibility to more than a million low income college students with an additional average Pell Grant of $1,650. The only problem is that the U.S. Department of Education hasn’t published guidance yet. That leaves schools and students feeling uncertain about paying for summer classes. According to Jeff Baker, speaking at the recent EASFAA Conference, a Dear Colleague Letter is in the works and schools can expect it by July 1st.
Fortunately, implementing year round Pell 2.0 will be easier than last time. Unlike the prior year round Pell regulations, students are not required to accelerate their pace to get the additional Pell. Students must be enrolled at least half-time in an additional payment period within the award year. YRP 2.0 also allows schools to assign crossover payment periods to the award year that benefits the student the most for Pell purposes. Schools can expect the inclusion of YRP 2.0 awards to be included in the calculation of Pell Lifetime Eligibility Limits (Pell LEU) and students must meet all of the other eligibility requirements such as having a valid ISIR, and completed Verification.
Until such time as ED publishes implementation guidance for schools, we can look at the language in the final bill to prepare for packaging and perhaps repackaging aid for students attending in summer 2017-2018.
Here’s a summary of the bill’s language
(a) Section 401(b) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1070a(b)) is amended by adding at the end the following:
(8)(A) Effective in the 2017-2018 award year and thereafter, the Secretary shall award an eligible student not more than one and one-half Federal Pell Grants during a single award year to permit such student to work toward completion of an eligible program if, during that single award year, the student”
(i) has received a Federal Pell Grant for an award year and is enrolled in an eligible program for one or more additional payment periods during the same award year that are not otherwise fully covered by the student’s Federal Pell Grant; and
(ii) is enrolled on at least a half-time basis while receiving any funds under this section.
(B) In the case of a student receiving more than one Federal Pell Grant in a single award year under subparagraph (A), the total amount of Federal Pell Grants awarded to such student for the award year may exceed the maximum basic grant level specified in the appropriate appropriations Act for such award year.
(C) Any period of study covered by a Federal Pell Grant awarded under subparagraph (A) shall be included in determining a student’s duration limit under subsection (c)(5).
(D) In any case where an eligible student is receiving a Federal Pell Grant for a payment period that spans two award years, the Secretary shall allow the eligible institution in which the student is enrolled to determine the award year to which the additional period shall be assigned, as it determines is most beneficial to students.
(b) Section 401(b)(7)(A)(iv)(VII) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1070a(b)(7)(A)(iv)(VII)) is amended by striking $1,574,000,000 and inserting $1,320,000,000
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