Monday, December 5, 2011

Full Pell vs. Full Pell

Pell grants can be confusing if you've never had them before. If you fill out a FAFSA, and you qualify for a full Pell grant, then for this year, you would be expecting $5550. However, the thing you must keep in mind is that this amount is the total for full-time attendance for an entire academic year. In a quarter-based school, this is 3 quarters; in a semester-based school, this is 2 semesters. So, in order for you to receive all $5550, then you have to be full-time for 3 quarters or 2 semesters during that academic year. What you are really qualifying for is the full amount of Pell per quarter/semester that can be disbursed, or $1850 per quarter or $2775 per semester.

Here's an example that applies at Metro Business College. Let's say you start in December/January. You fill out a FAFSA and qualify for a full Pell grant. You will receive $1850 for the December/January quarter, another $1850 for the March/April quarter. If you attend Cape, Jeff City, or Rolla, then your June quarter can be either the remaining $1850 or your following year's Pell (depending on quite a few things). If you are in Arnold, then your July quarter Pell will be from the following year's FAFSA. So, the other $1850 of the total $5550 will never come in because you didn't attend 3 quarters in that award year.

If that sounds confusing, it's because it is. Remember, you have to attend an academic year during an award year (which is the period between July 1 and the following June 30). If you only attend one part of the entire award year, then you will only have one part of the whole Pell grant.

Another example that applies at Metro Business College. Let's say you are enrolled in a three-quarter program, and you have 2 quarters in one award year and the last 1 in the following award year. Let's say both FAFSAs say you qualify for a full Pell grant. Does that mean you get $5550 for the first year and $5550 for the second? Not for that program, it doesn't. You will get 2 quarters of Pell from the first FAFSA, and you will get 1 quarter of Pell from the second FAFSA. The remaining 1/3 of the Pell from the first FAFSA will never come in because you didn't attend during a third quarter during that award year: you only attended 2 quarters. Your last FAFSA says you qualify for a full Pell grant, but if you only attend 1 quarter of that award year, then you will only receive 1 quarter of Pell. The other 2 disbursements of Pell are not sent until you attend past the 1 quarter. So, the total for the 3 quarters you attend is still $5550, but 2/3 of it is from the first award year, and the last 1/3 is from the second award year. But you won't receive $11,100 in Pell for only attending 3 quarters: you only receive Pell for the quarters you attend.

This isn't even taking into account that you have to be full-time during those quarters also. The less credits you take, the less Pell grant you will receive. But we'll save that for another day.

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