Impact of the Immediate and Retroactive Lower Lifetime Limit for Pell Grants

June 19, 2012
The Institute for College Access & Success
In 2008, Congress limited Pell Grant eligibility to nine years (scheduled awards) and applied the limit prospectively—to students receiving a Pell Grant for the first time on or after July 1, 2008. In December 2011, Congress lowered this lifetime limit to six years and applied it immediately and retroactively—to all students, including those a semester away from completing their degrees. As a result of this change, in the upcoming year alone, more than 100,000 students are expected to lose their Pell Grant, forcing them to either abandon their education or take on more debt just as interest rates are scheduled to double on some federal student loans.