2012-2013 Pell Grant Requirements
The Pell Grant program helps ensure financial access to low and middle income students attending a college or university by providing grant income to undergraduate students. The program is the most need- focused of the Department of Educationís financial aid programs. Individual Pell Grant awards vary according to the financial circumstances of students and their families.
Currently, there is $36.1 billion in Pell Grant awards that would assist nearly 9.6 million students during the 2012-2013 award year, with a maximum award of $5,550. In response to the unsustainably high costs of the Pell Grant program as currently structured, the federal government is proposing a range of measures, known collectively as the Pell Grant Protection Act, to reform program operations and funding.
The Pell Grant Protection Proposal includes provisions to both decrease Pell costs, such as eliminating students' ability to get a second Pell grant in an award year. By not allowing the second Pell Grant, the Pell Grant program would see a cost savings of $7.6 billion in fiscal year 2012. Also the proposal would find new sources of funding to reduce discretionary funding costs. The source of this funding would be appropriated savings by eliminating the graduate subsidized loan for graduate student loans and from offering borrowers the option of converting their FFEL debt to the Direct Loan Program.
These proposals would generate an estimated additional $4.3 billion in savings in fiscal year 2012 that would be used to offset Pell costs and help ensure the long-term financial stability of the Pell Grant program.
In addition, the Department of Education would continue its effort to simplify and improve the current cumbersome process for applying for student aid by requiring Pell Grant applicants to use tax data from the Internal Revenue Service to populate the income section of the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). This change would save money by preventing over-awards of Pell Grant based on inaccurately reported student and family income data.
The proposed elimination of a second Pell grant and the income verification policies would decrease Pell Grant costs by $25.3 billion through 2016. Congress is reviewing these cost savings and will determine if these savings are enough to save the Pell Grant Program. Students could contact their financial aid office if they have any additional information.