As a result of recent legislative changes, you should be aware of a number of new requirements for the federal student aid programs. Most of these changes are effective with the 2012-13 school year (July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2013).
Hereâ€™s an overview of the changes that could impact your financial aid for the upcoming academic year and in the future.
Eligibility of Students Without a High School Diploma
If you are enrolling in higher education for the first time on or after July 1, 2012, in order to be eligible for federal student aid, you must have either a high school diploma or a recognized equivalent (such as a General Educational Development certificate (GED) or have been home schooled).
You will no longer have the option of becoming eligible for federal student aid by passing an approved test or completing at least six credit hours or 225 clock hours of postsecondary education.
Expected Family Contribution
The lower a studentâ€™s Expected Family Contribution (EFC), the higher the studentâ€™s federal student aid eligibility. A change has been made to the income amount that is used to determine if a student qualifies for an automatic EFC of zero.
When you complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you receive an Expected Family Contribution, which is a number used to determine your federal student aid eligibility. For the 2012-13 school year, you will automatically qualify for an Expected Family Contribution of zero if your family income does not exceed $23,000. This is a reduction from the previous maximum income of $32,000.
Federal Pell Grant Program â€” Duration of Eligibility
Once you have received a Pell Grant for 12 semesters, or the equivalent, you will no longer be eligible for additional Pell Grants.
You are eligible to receive a Pell Grant for up to 12 semesters or the equivalent. If you have exceeded the 12-semester maximum, you will lose eligibility for additional Pell Grants beginning in 2012-13 school year. Equivalency is calculated by adding together the percentage of your Pell eligibility that you received each year to determine whether the total amount exceeds 600%.
For example, if your maximum Pell Grant award amount for the 2010-2011 school year was $5,550, but you only receive $2,775 because you were only enrolled for one semester, you would have used 50% of your maximum award for that year. If in the following school year, you were enrolled only three-quarter time, you would have used 75% of your maximum award for that year. Together, you would have received 125% out of the total 600% lifetime limit.