Q: I’ve been receiving the Pell Grant for six years – I spent several years attending community college part-time, then transferred to a 4-year where I have one year left before getting my degree.
I was told that a student can only receive the Pell Grant for 6 years / 12 semesters. Does this mean I cannot receive the Pell for my 7th year in college?
A: No, this does not mean you will lose your Pell Grant in your 7th year. A student can receive the Pell Grant for 6 full-time-equivalent years (12 full-time-equivalent semesters) as an undergraduate. Since you were not attending college full-time for each of your 6 years, you should still be eligible for some Pell in your 7th year.
For example, if you attended half-time (6 units each semester) for your first 2 years of college, you would have used only 1 full-time-equivalent year of Pell during those 2 years. That would leave you with 1 more full-time-equivalent year of eligibility—enough for your final 7th year.
How can you know for sure how much Pell eligibility you have left?
- When you file a FAFSA, you receive a Student Aid Report that will give you a general idea of how many of your 6 full-time-equivalent years of eligibility you have already used.
- For more specific information, you can log in to the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) at https://www.nslds.ed.gov/nslds/nslds_SA/ (click on “Financial Aid Review” and set up an account, if you haven’t already). It will show you the percentage of Pell eligibility that you have already used. The cut-off point is 600% (that is equivalent to 6 full-time-equivalent years). Example: If it shows you have used 400% of your Pell eligibility, you would have 200% (or 2 full-time equivalent years) left.
For the most up-to-date information, you can contact your college’s financial aid office.
Citation: Federal Student Aid Handbook (2016-2017)