Federal Pell Grant payment and disbursement schedules for 2018-19 have not been released, even though this time last year they were already published. NASFAA has an inquiry into the Department of Education (ED) to learn more about the timing of this year’s schedules, but complicating matters is unfinished congressional budget work.
Of course it is not unusual for Congress to miss their budget deadline, but in previous years we could be reasonably sure that Congress would level fund the program along with a mandatory increase equal to the Consumer Price Index (CPI). That mandatory increase expires this year and with Congress still in the throes of the budget process, it is unclear what the maximum Pell Grant will be for the 2018-19 year.
However, we can speculate on two potential outcomes:
If Congress level-funds the program, the 2018-19 Pell Schedules would be the same as the 2017-18 Pell Schedules.
If Congress provides an increase in funding, the 2018-19 Pell Schedules would reflect that increase. This year the Senate’s version of the Labor, Health, Human Services and Education (Labor-HHS) fiscal year 2018 funding bill included a proposed $100 increase to the maximum Pell Grant award. The House version did not include this increase. Ultimately the two bills will have to be reconciled.
Perhaps ED is waiting on the final appropriations bill to pass to ensure the most accurate information is included in the Pell tables. In that case Pell schedules wouldn’t be expected until December, which is the earliest Congress would wrap-up its FY18 budget work. However, given the unpredictability of Congress and its proclivity to extend budget battles into the new calendar year, waiting to publish the schedules until Congress finally finishes its budget work by no means guarantees a December release. All other things failing, the master calendar requires ED to publish Pell schedules no later than February 1.
Schools that want to get an early jump on packaging can use this year’s (2017-18) Pell schedules, with the knowledge that there might be an increase once Congress finishes their work.
NASFAA will post any updates related to the Pell schedules and their release in Today’s News.
Publication Date: 10/23/2017