Three Critical Pell Grant Rules

Written by Michael Bennet

Students must understand that there are a variety of Pell Grant rules that must be satisfied in order to maintain their eligibility for this financial aid instrument. Most students qualify for their award, get their money, and then forget that their eligibility status can be revoked if they violate any one of these stipulations.

The following is a brief overview of some of the more important Pell Grant rules that must be continually satisfied in order to maintain eligibility:

Rule One: Maintaining Satisfactory Academic Progress

This is important because if a student falls behind academically, and is put on some kind of academic probation, he or she may not be able to receive their Pell Grant aid for the following semester.

So for example if you were given a full Pell Grant that was to be disbursed over the Fall, and Spring semesters, it would be critical that you do well during the Fall semester in order to get your aid during the Spring term. While satisfactory academic progress is defined differently by each institution, getting below a 2.0 grade point average is a fairly standard threshold that may get you in trouble, although it will be up to your school’s financial aid department to evaluate you particular situation, and whether to deny you aid for the Spring semester.

Rule Two: Steering Clear of Drug Convictions

A drug conviction can negate your eligibility for federal student aid and the Pell Grant, and it is therefore imperative that you steer clear of any drug related activity while you are receiving a Pell Grant. Typically students who have a drug related incident while receiving federal aid and the Pell Grant would have to be evaluated by their postsecondary institution in order to determine the appropriate course of action.

While it is not set in stone that a drug related incident would completely negate your Pell Grant eligibility status, in certainly can, and will if you are a repeat offender. The bottom line is that you want to stay away from illegal drugs not only to maintain your eligibility for federal student aid, but to keep your college life intact as well.

Rule Three: Pell Grant Overpayment

A Pell Grant overpayment involves a situation where a student may have received aid when they weren’t supposed to, or perhaps went ahead and used it on something that they weren’t supposed to. When this happens the college will demand that the proceeds of the grant be paid back to the school, and until this happens you will not be able to qualify for the Pell Grant during subsequent terms.

This is a Pell Grant rule that you must pay close attention to, as it can severely limit your ability to pay for school if you aren’t able to pay back what you owe. Remember that the Pell Grant can only be used on what are considered to be “education related” expenses, and not things like cars, motorcycles, and televisions. If you ever think that something may be wrong with your financial aid package immediately contact your school in order for them to review your situation, as this can avoid further turmoil that may be caused by the improper use of funds.

When a mistake is made, and a student receives aid that they weren’t supposed to, it is common practice to give the student the benefit of the doubt, although that aid is still sometimes expected to be recovered. Just make sure that if you get your Pell Grant money as cash, or have ready access to it, that you check to make sure that the amounts are correct, and that you haven’t been given funds that weren’t yours.