A Recent Pell Grant Increase Explained

Written by Michael Bennet

A Pell Grant increase can mean many things, but it is almost always associated with an increase in the eligibility standards for the award, or with an increase in the available award amounts for a particular school year. This current academic year has seen a Pell Grant increase in both of these areas with the enactment of the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act, or SAFRA.

This new piece of legislation that was put into law on March 30, 2010 by President Obama will inject tens of billions of dollars into the Pell Grant program over the next ten years or so, while expanding both the eligibility requirements, and the available award amounts for students.

Changes to the EFC Cutoff Threshold

SAFRA has increased the maximum EFC cutoff threshold beginning in 2010-2011 from 4,671, to 5,273, and in doing so has made the Pell Grant a possibility for thousands of students who would have been declared ineligible according to the old EFC threshold.

Remember that the maximum EFC cutoff threshold serves as the maximum EFC value that a student can have in order to become eligible for the Pell Grant. EFC is inversely proportional to financial need, and it is therefore better to have a lower EFC if you want to qualify for the most Pell Grant aid you can.

Pell Grant Increase to Award Amounts

The maximum Pell Grant amount for the 2010-11 school year has also been increased, and now stands at 5,550 dollars. This is the highest possible award amount that any student can get for this particular academic year, although most students receive only about half of the maximum award amount.

There will be several more Pell Grant increases to the maximum award amount beginning in 2013 as a result of the new SAFRA legislation. To combat inflation, the maximum award amount will increase according to the Consumer Price Index + 1%, and this will occur on an annual basis.

Stay tuned as both your Pell Grant eligibility, and your ability to secure the maximum amount of Pell Grant aid will depend upon the guidelines as defined by the academic term you are planning to attend. It is therefore not out of the realm of possibility for these items to change in the near future, and to avoid any unexpected surprises it is always best to check back with this site before you plan on getting a Pell Grant for a particular academic year.