By Ryan Laspina
Analyst, Red Flags and External Reviews at APUS
One of the best types of Federal Student Aid (FSA) available to some students is the Federal Pell Grant. The Pell Grant is awarded on a need basis, meaning that you have to demonstrate a financial need to receive the Pell Grant.
Unlike other grants, the Pell Grant does not need to be paid back. So it is a great tool for helping students in financial need to more easily cover the costs of their undergraduate education.
However, there is a limit on how much Pell Grant aid you can receive. This limitation is referred to as Lifetime Eligibility Used (LEU).
How Lifetime Eligibility Used Is Determined
Pell Grant LEU is a fairly simple formula. LEU is the amount of all Federal Pell Grant aid you were awarded, divided by the amount of Pell Grant aid you are eligible to receive based on a full-time enrollment.
Federal law mandates that the Pell Grant amount any student can receive is equal to six total years of Pell Grant funding. In other words, an eligible student can only receive 600% of Pell Grant funding. Essentially, a student could attend school for six years and get full-time Pell Grant financial aid for all six of those years.
The Department of Education keeps track of how much of the Pell Grant you use. It is not necessary to be enrolled full-time every year to receive the Pell Grant.
A Pell Grant Can Help Fund Your Undergraduate Education
No matter what your enrollment status is each semester, you will be eligible for the Pell Grant (assuming other qualifications are met) if you have not reached the 600% limit. Your Student Aid Report (SAR) notifies you if you are close to or have reached your Pell Grant limit.
It should be fairly easy to complete an associate or bachelor’s degree within the 600% limit (Graduate students are not eligible for Pell). As long as you progress at an appropriate rate, you should be able to finish your degree without ever reaching your LEU.
Also, be sure to follow proper budgeting and collaborate with your academic and financial advisers.