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No US High School Diploma or GED Will Mean No PELL Grant

Posted on 04/06/2012

Filling out an application

The Federal Pell Grant Program provides need-based grants to low-income undergraduate to promote access to postsecondary education. Pell Grants do not need to be repaid. Currently adult learners with no high school diploma and no GED still have the opportunity to enroll in college-level courses and even qualify for federal financial aid to help pay for them. They are able to do in one of two ways: by taking the Ability to Benefit test (ABT) — a standardized assessment of basic skills like reading, writing, and math — or by successfully completing six credits.

However, the current federal budget will change some college-level students' eligibility for financial aid. New requirements for the Pell Grant program were made in order to meet the $1 Billion + Pell Grant budget deficit and are outlined within the 2012 new budget that was passed by congress on December 16, 2011.

Students that do not have a US high school diploma or a GED are no longer eligible to receive the Pell Grant. This impacts many immigrant students since they may not have degrees that are recognized by the United Stated education system. Students must have at least a GED to become eligible to receive the Pell Grant starting in July 2012.

Fiscal Year 2011 appropriations eliminated the possibility of receiving up to two consecutive Pell Grant awards during a single award year. Beginning with the 2011-12 award year, those eligible may receive only one Pell Grant award during a single award year.

Starting in 2012-2013, students will only be eligible for Pell Grants for 8 semesters rather than 12. This restriction disproportionately affects African American students, transfer students, and others with many life responsibilities who may take longer than four years to complete a degree or certificate.

The income level that allows students to receive the maximum Pell Grant amount has also changed during the 2012 - 2013 school year. Students must now have an income of $23,000 or less to be considered for the maximum Pell Grant amount. This is $7,000 less than the 2011-2012 school year. The maximum Pell Grant award amount of $5,550 has not changed, as reported online at Pell Grant Requirements.com (www).

The students who have already taken ABT before the July 1 2012 will qualify for PELL financial aid under the 2011-12 rules.

Official program information can be found on U.S. Department of Education Web site under Federal Pell Grant Program (www).