The Department of Education (ED) yesterday evening released the Federal Pell Grant payment and disbursement schedules for award year (AY) 2018-19, despite the fact that Congress has yet to finalize funding levels for fiscal year (FY) 2018.
With progress in the House and Senate on a final spending bill stalled, largely due to disagreements related to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and immigration policy, the federal government briefly shut down in January. Following the 3-day shutdown, Congress on January 22 voted to reopen the government by passing a continuing resolution (CR) to fund it through February 8 at the same levels as FY 2017.
In previous years it was relatively certain that Congress would level-fund the Pell Grant program while supporting a mandatory increase equal to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) prescribed in law, but that mandatory annual inflationary increase expires at the end of AY 2017-18.
The Senate’s version of the Labor, Health, Human Services and Education (Labor-H) fiscal year 2018 funding bill proposed a $100 increase to the maximum Pell Grant award, while the House version did not include this increase. The two bills need to be reconciled, but it appears the worst-case scenario would be that the maximum Pell Grant for AY 2018-19 would remain at the same level as in AY 2017-18. The best-case scenario would be a $100 increase to the Pell Grant maximum award, from $5,920 to $6,020, for AY 2018-19.
For Pell Grant awarding purposes, this means if Congress level-funds the program, the 2018-19 Pell schedules published yesterday will hold true and the maximum Pell Grant award will be $5,920, as it was in AY 2017-18. If Congress provides an increase in funding, the 2018-19 Pell schedules released yesterday will become obsolete and new payment and disbursement schedules that reflect that increase will be published.
Stay tuned to Today’s News for more on FY 2018 funding levels as information becomes available and for more on the ins and outs of the federal budget process, check out NASFAA's Federal Budget Frequently Asked Questions page.
Publication Date: 2/1/2018