ED Releases Pell Guidance on FY 2011 Continuing Resolution
The Department of Education released guidance yesterday afternoon on the impact of the Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act -- also known as a fiscal year (FY) 2011 long-term continuing resolution (CR) on the Pell Grant Program for award year 2011-12.
The letter confirms that the long-term CR eliminates second scheduled Pell awards beginning with award year 2011-12, but also maintains a maximum award of $5,550 for the upcoming academic year. As a result, the Pell Grant Payment and Disbursement Schedules released by the Department on February remain valid and unchanged for award year 2011-12.
The Department's guidance also provides interpretation on the provision in the CR to lift existing Pell Grant crossover regulations for the summer of 2011. Institutions will not be required to assign a student in a 2011 crossover period to the award year which yields the higher Pell payment for the crossover period. If year-round Pell would have been eliminated without addressing the crossover regulation, a student in a crossover period with a higher payment for the crossover period from the 2011-12 award year would have been forced to receive funds from that year, potentially leaving them short of Pell funds in the spring. With the suspension of those regulations, schools can choose the award year to which they assign a student's crossover period for Pell Grant purposes. This permits a school to pay a student's remaining 2010-11 funds, including second scheduled awards, for the crossover payment period.
Assigning summer 2011 to the 2010-11 award year also opens the possibility of paying one more ACG or SMART Grant award for the summer period to students who qualify. Eligibility for these programs depends in part on Pell Grant eligibility in the same award year. The ACG and SMART Grant programs cease to exist at the conclusion of the 2010-11 award year.
The letter also makes it clear that while Congress made mandatory cross-over rules inapplicable to summer 2011, neither Congress nor the Department changed the rules defining acceleration to establish eligibility for second Pell out of 2010-11. As a result, schools will still need to determine whether a student has/will earn credits in excess of an academic year's worth within all terms assigned to 2010-11 in order to qualify for a second Pell.
The DCL does not address whether ED will permanently remove the cross-over regulations after summer 2011.