News Release


143,000 Students to Lose Their Pell Grant Next Year

For Immediate Release

Washington, D.C. – Friday Congress passed the FY2012 appropriations bill, changing eligibility requirements for Pell grants eliminating about 143,000 Pell Grant recipients from the program next year.

“We are disappointed Congress has chosen to restrict access to the country's cornerstone financial aid program, blindsiding about 143,000 students next year,” said Rich Williams, Higher Education Advocate with U.S. PIRG. “At a time when student debt is at an all time high, Congress has failed to deliver on an agreement which helps struggling students pay for college and make it to graduation.”

The FY12 Omnibus appropriations bill makes the following changes to student aid effective July 1, 2012. In total, about 145,000 recipients will not receive an average of $3,888 in Pell Grants in 2012-13:

  * Retroactively caps Pell Grant eligibility at 6 years of college from 9 years. As a result, about 63,000 recipients will not receive an average award of $3,905;

  * Reduces the family income requirement for an automatic zero Expected Family Contribution (EFC) from $30,000 to $23,000. This will eliminate 12,000 students from eligibility with an average Pell Grant of $4,098.  An additional 274,000 recipients will receive an average of $715 less in Pell funding;

  * Eliminates Pell Grant awards between $277 and $550. As a result 3,000 recipients will not receive an average grant of $506;

  * Students without a high school diploma or GED will no longer qualify for Pell by passing an ‘ability to benefit’ test.  As a result, 65,000 students will not receive an average of $3,905,

  * Temporarily suspends the six month interest free grace period after leaving school on federal Stafford loans for academic year 2012-13 and 2013-14,

  * Makes a .189% funding reduction to most student aid programs including work study and Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants (SEOG).

The President is expected to sign the Omnibus into law by December 25th, when the current budget expires.

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All data collected from the Department of Education

U.S. PIRG, the federation of State Public Interest Research Groups, is a non-profit, non-partisan public interest advocacy organization with campus chapter affiliates across the country representing hundreds of thousands of students.  For more information visit

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