Learn more about degree programs at American Public University.
By Ryan Laspina
Senior Specialist, Red Flags and External Reviews at APUS
The Pell Grant is one of the most beneficial types of Federal Student Aid (FSA). Because it is a grant, it typically does not need to be repaid. It is a useful way to pay for college tuition and fees. Unlike FSA loans, it does not accrue interest or come due after you finish college.
However, there are situations when the total amount of Pell Grant funds you receive needs to be adjusted (recalculated). In this case, you become responsible for any difference or balance that you owe to the school.
Different Factors Affect Your Pell Grant Funds
Once the Pell Grant is disbursed, your school continues to monitor your eligibility and may have to return some of the funding in certain circumstances. The amount of Pell Grant funds you receive each semester may change depending on several factors, including:
1) A change in your Expected Family Contribution (EFC): The primary factor in determining your initial eligibility for a Pell Grant is the Expected Family Contribution, calculated from information you provide on the Federal Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Changes or corrections to a FAFSA can affect your FSA eligibility, which results in a recalculation of your EFC and Pell eligibility.
To prevent the need to correct your FAFSA, fill it out carefully. Ensure that all of your information is accurate and complete.
2) A change in your enrollment status: Pell Grant adjustments also occur when you change your enrollment status. The initial amount of Pell money you receive depends on whether you are a full-time, quarter-time, half-time or less than half-time student.
The Pell Grant is typically awarded based on your planned enrollment in a semester and is disbursed after you begin attending classes. If you change enrollment status during a semester, your Pell Grant award might need to be recalculated upward or downward.
Adding course registrations and increasing your enrollment status may result in an additional disbursement. Also, if you drop courses for which you received Pell assistance, you might have to return some or all of your grant to the Department of Education (ED). In that case, your school can bill you for any balance due from this adjustment.
Schools are not required to increase Pell amounts for added registrations, but they are required to make downward adjustments in certain situations. Take the time to review and understand your school’s policy on Pell recalculations.
The best way to avoid a Pell Grant recalculation is to plan a realistic course schedule. Be sure to take your workload and other responsibilities into account, so that you won’t become overburdened.
If you have questions or need assistance, contact us for more information.