So it's been announced already how the 2012-13 Pell Grants (which begin July 1, 2012) will change. I often mention that Financial Aid itself is like a car model, and each year the new edition is released with some changes from the previous years. Sometimes it changes a little, and sometimes it's not recognizeable from the previous year. Fortunately, there are fewer changes this year than in previous years.
First, let's start out with the good news.
The good news is what is being reported in all the media outlets and on most websites. And it's true. The Pell Grant's maximum will remain at $5550 for this next award year. And really, in a time when the government is trying to find places to save money, they haven't lowered the Pell Grant, which is amazing considering it's money from the government which doesn't get repaid typically.
And now for the bad news.
The bad news is what isn't being reported. In order for the Pell Grant to stay at the same level, something has to change, and there's a couple things. A couple other grants (such as SEOG) are being reduced, which will help pay for the Pell Grant. A major change is the way Pell Grants are figured. Currently, they are based on a family income of $30,000, but that will drop to $23,000. For those whose income didn't change, this means that it won't be as easy to get as much Pell as you received the previous year, and people who were borderline Pell Grant recipients will lose Pell starting in July. Also, the lifetime eligibility for earning Pell Grants has been reduced from 18 to 12 semesters. This is cut down on the students who keep attending and never obtain degrees or keep deferring their loans (some call these professional students or perpetual students). One more change was that a student must have a high school diploma or a GED to be eligible for Pell. (What this change means is some schools allow students to begin attending if they take an ATB [Ability to Benefit]Test. Metro Business College never allowed entry for students with this, and a high school diploma or GED was always a requirement.)
Really, the bad news isn't all that bad. The only change that may be a problem is the reduction of how the Pell is figured. This will make it a little harder for people to qualify for as much Pell as they did the previous year. So, even though the Pell stays at the same level, it won't be as easy for some students to get. We'll see how the year goes.