Pell Grant Lifetime Eligibility

In December 2011, President Obama signed into law the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2012 (Public Law 112-74). This law has significantly impacted the Pell Grant Program for the 2012-2013 academic year. Some students who received the Pell grant in the past may no longer be eligible for the reasons below:

  • Maximum expected family contribution (EFC) eligibility has changed. During the 2011-12 academic year, students with EFCs between 0 and 5273 were eligible to receive a Pell grant. For the 2012-13 academic year, only students with an EFC between 0 and 4995 will be Pell grant-eligible. Your EFC can be found on your Federal Student Aid Report (SAR).
  • Beginning in Fall 2012, students are now limited to 12 semesters (or 600%) of Pell Grant eligibility during their lifetime. This change affects all students regardless of when or where they received their first Pell Grant. Students who are currently receiving the Pell Grant in the academic year 2011-2012 and have already used 600% of their Pell Grant eligibility will no longer be eligible to receive a Pell Grant starting Fall 2012.

How Do I Know If The Lifetime Limit Affects Me?

If you have attended college for 4 years or longer, receiving the Pell Grant each year, you are likely to exhaust or have already exhausted your lifetime limit of 12 semesters of Pell Grant eligibility during the 2012-2013 school year.

If you have attended college and received the Pell Grant for 3 years or less you will likely not surpass the lifetime limit during the 2012-2013 school year.

How Is The ‘Percentage Used’ For the Lifetime Limit Calculated?

The percentages are based off the annual award at fulltime enrollment status. For students with an annual award for 2011-2012 academic year, attending 12 or more credits in each semesters (Fall and Spring for example), the percentage used for the 2011-2012 academic year is 100%. If you only attended 9 credits for two semesters, your percentage used for the academic year would be 75%.

How Will I Know If I Am Nearing My Lifetime Limit?

To determine remaining eligibility, the Department of Education (DOE) must review all Pell grants awarded since the program began. Beginning in mid-April, the DOE will send emails to all 2012-2013 FAFSA applicants who appear to be nearing their lifetime limit. You may also view your percentage of Pell grant used by logging into

Please be conscious about the lifetime limit of the Pell grant when changing majors and/or scheduling classes.

Who Do I Call If I Have Questions About This?

Please contact the Student Business Center located in the University Center or send your questions to

Note: It is possible that students may be awarded for the 2012-2013 academic year before the Department of Education makes a final eligibility determination. If you are awarded Pell grant funds and later found to have exceeded the lifetime limit, the award will be cancelled and you could be responsible for any resulting balances.

The Financial Aid Office is waiting for more specific guidance pertaining to these changes from the Department of Education. As more information becomes available, we will communicate it with you.

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