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Pell Grant

The Federal Pell Grant is the largest federal grant program and is the foundation of a student's total "aid package." Eligibility is determined by the federal government using a standard formula for all applicants and is based on information provided on your FAFSA application. Yearly maximum Pell Grants are determined each year by the Department of Education - the amount you will receive is determined by: 

  • your financial need,
  • your school's cost of attendance,
  • your status as a full-time or part-time student, and
  • your plans to attend school for a full academic year or less. 

Pell Grants, unlike loans, do not have to be repaid. Students may not receive Federal Pell Grant funds from more than one school at a time and students who have already received a Bachelor's degree are not eligible for Pell Grants.

Students enrolled in 12+ units are eligible for the maximum award, while awards are prorated for students enrolled in fewer than 12 units.
12+ credits = 100% of the semester Pell Grant amount
9-11 credits = 75% of the semester Pell Grant amount
6-8 credits = 50% of the semester Pell Grant amount

More information on Pell grants is available on the Department of Education's webpage.

Lifetime Eligibility

The amount of Federal Pell Grant funds you may receive over your lifetime is limited by federal law to be the equivalent of six years of Pell Grant funding. Since the maximum amount of Pell Grant funding you can receive each year is equal to 100%, the six-year equivalent is 600%. This includes Pell funding received at community colleges, vocational schools and four year public and private universities for the life of your academic career.

This is for six years at no more than 100% Pell per year (12 units or more for both Fall and Spring semesters).

Once you have reached the 600% limit, you are not eligible for any additional Pell funding and there are not exceptions or appeals. Also, once you have earned a Bachelor’s Degree, you are no longer eligible for a Pell Grant even if you haven’t received the entire 600% eligibility.

Year Round Pell (YRP)

Pell Grant eligible students can receive up to 150% of their scheduled Pell award each year. Southwestern College awards summer Pell as a trailer, meaning a summer 2020 Pell award will be based on the 2019/2020 FAFSA application. The deadline to complete a 2019/2020 FASFA application is June 30, 2020. If you attended another college and used any of your 2019/2020 Pell eligibility, it may impact your summer eligibility at SWC.

Minimum Credits for Summer Pell Grant

• If you enrolled full-time (12+ credits) and received the full-time Pell Grant amount for fall and spring semesters, you must enroll in at least half-time (6+ credits) in summer classes to receive a summer Pell Grant.
• If you enrolled part-time fall or spring semesters, you must enroll in a minimum of one or more credits in summer classes to receive summer Pell Grant (pending eligibility based on your EFC).

Pell Grant Amount Depends on Enrollment

Your summer Pell Grant amount will depend on the number of credits you are registered in, your Pell Lifetime Eligibility Units (LEU), as well as any Pell payments at another school during the financial aid year. The Pell Grant amount will be adjusted just prior to the release (disbursement) of your aid based on your eligibility and enrollment level.

An example of how Year-Round Pell (YRP) works

A Pell eligible student with an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) of $0 is eligible for $6000 (100%) in Pell grant for the year (fall/spring), or $3000 (50%) for the fall semester and $3000 (50%) for the spring semester. Under the YRP program and the allowable 150% availability, this student could receive an additional $3000 (50%) for the summer semester if they enrolled full-time (12 credits). If the student enrolls half-time (six credits) summer semester, the student would receive a $1500 (25%) Federal Pell Grant for summer, or one-half of a full award.

Frequently Asked Questions