In December 2011, President Obama signed into law the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2012 (Public Law 112-74). This law has significantly impacted the Federal Pell Grant Program. The new law reduces the duration of Federal Pell Grant eligibility to 12 semesters or 600% Lifetime Eligibility of Pell Grant. Beginning with the 2012-2013 school year, this change affects all students regardless of when or where they received their first Pell Grant.
Students who are affected will be notified by the Central Processing System (CPS), the system that processes your FAFSA. If you have used at least 450% of your Lifetime Eligibility Used (LEU), you will be notified via email. Check the email account you provided on your FAFSA.
How is the LEU calculated?
The LEU is calculated for each academic year, beginning with 1977-1978 and is based on the annual award. Each full-time semester equates to 50% of your total LEU which yields a maximum percentage of 600% for 12 semesters. Once you have used 600% of your Federal Pell eligibility, you are ineligible for further Pell Grant awards.
Sample annual calculations:
- If you received a full-time Pell award for both the fall and winter semesters, you have used 100% of your 600% lifetime eligibility.
- If you received a half-time award in the fall semester and a full-time award in the winter semester, you have used 75% of your lifetime eligibility.
- If you received a half-time award for both fall and winter semesters, you have used 50% of your lifetime eligibility.
How to track your Pell LEU percentage:
To track your Pell Grant history and your LEU percentage, visit NSLDS Student Access at NSLDS. This site is updated regularly with your Pell Grant awards as they are reported.
Can I appeal my Pell lifetime eligibility?
A student who believes there may be an inaccuracy in the underlying Pell Grant data that is part of the student’s Pell Grant LEU calculation may dispute that information by contacting his or her current school. In doing so, the student:
- Must have filed a FAFSA for the current award year so as to ensure that the current school can view the student’s Pell history on the Department’s COD Web site.
- Must provide all documentation requested by the current school in support of the student’s assertion that there is an inaccuracy in the Pell Grant data. This documentation must include a signed and dated statement from the student that provides:
- The name of the student’s current school to whom the student reported the alleged inaccurate data;
- The name of the school that reported the alleged inaccurate information;
- The award year and disputed amount and;
- The reason the student believes the Pell Grant data are inaccurate.
Note: If resolution of the disputed Pell Grant amount would not reduce the student’s LEU to be less than 600%, the school will not review the appeal. For example, if a student’s Pell Grant LEU is 850% and she is disputing one award year’s eligibility used of 100%, she would remain ineligible for additional Pell Grant funding because her adjusted Pell Grant LEU of 750% would still be over the 600% statutory limit.