Maintained for Historical Purposes

This resource is being maintained for historical purposes only and is not currently applicable.

Pell Grants for Students Who Incorrectly Indicate They are a Graduate or Professional Student on their FAFSAs

Publication Date: June 28, 2001

Author: General Manager: SFA School Channel

Summary: Pell Grants for Students Who Incorrectly Indicate They are a Graduate or Professional Student on their FAFSAs

Posted on June 28, 2001


TO: Financial Aid Administrators
FROM: Student Financial Assistance Customer Service Call Center
RE: Pell Grants for Students Who Incorrectly Indicate They are a Graduate or Professional Student on their FAFSAs

Do you have any Pell Grant recipients who incorrectly indicated when completing their FAFSAs that they are a graduate or professional student? Are you having trouble getting their Pell awards through the Recipient Financial Management System (RFMS)? If so, you need to be aware of the following information.

Each year there are students who incorrectly answer the graduate questions on their FAFSA or Renewal FAFSA forms. For 2000-2001, these questions are number 34 and 55. By answering yes to either one of these questions, we set a flag in our systems making the student ineligible for a Pell Grant. Often these students are not graduate students (or otherwise have not earned their first bachelor’s degree) and are undergraduates eligible for a Pell. However, when you attempt to submit Pell Grant payment data to RFMS we will reject the transaction because our records show the student ineligible due to their response to questions 34 and 55.

If you tried to submit a Pell Origination Record for such a student, you should have received Pell reject codes 303, 311 and/or 312 from the RFMS. Pell reject code 303 indicates that the original SSN or name code is invalid. The other two reject codes indicate that the transaction number or EFC is invalid. All three of these codes generally mean that the RFMS is unable to locate the applicant’s record in its system, which contains only the applicant records of undergraduate students. (Please note: Pell reject code 303 should not be confused with the social security number match results shown on the SAR/ISIR processed through the Central Processing System [CPS]).

A key to determining a student’s Pell eligibility is to look at the Pell Indicator flag on the student’s ISIR. If the student is eligible for a Pell Grant, there will be a "Y" in this field. If we consider the student ineligible for Pell, this field will be blank.

In order for you to be able to successfully submit Pell disbursement records (and receive funds) for these students, a correction showing the student’s proper graduate status must be made to the student’s record in the CPS. Corrections for the 2000-2001 award year must be submitted for processing by the CPS by the following deadline dates as contained in the Deadline Date Notice published in the "

Federal Register" on July 10, 2000:
  • 2000-2001 paper SAR corrections must be received by our processor by the close of business on August 16, 2001.
  • The deadline for electronic transactions is 7:00 PM on August 27, 2001. Transmissions must be completed and accepted by 7:00 PM to meet the deadline.
  • Once the correction is made and you receive an updated ISIR, you can submit your Pell records using the new CPS transaction.

    We hope this information is helpful to those of you who are experiencing difficulties in this area. If you have any questions, please contact the Customer Service Call Center at 1-800-433-7327 or email us at: You can also submit a question through the GOT A QUESTION button of the School Portal (

    Last Modified: 06/27/2001