Maintained for Historical Purposes

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

Federal Pell Grant Program - Recalculating Federal Pell Grant Awards

AwardYear: 1997-1998
EnterChapterNo: 4
EnterChapterTitle: Federal Pell Grant Program
SectionNumber: 5
SectionTitle: Recalculating Federal Pell Grant Awards
PageNumbers: 65-68

The Pell award may have to be recalculated if the student's
information changes after the initial calculation or disbursement. Of
the significant factors that go into calculating a Pell award, the three
that are most likely to change are the EFC, enrollment status, and
COA. The Federal Pell Grant Program regulations specify when a
school must recalculate an award to take these changes into account.
The recalculation may require adjustments in the student's
subsequent payments, or even repayment of the entire grant, as
discussed in Section 6 of this chapter.


[[Types of EFC changes]]
A student's EFC may change during the award year for three reasons:

1. CORRECTIONS. The student may have to correct an error on
the original FAFSA or on the previous SAR or ISIR. This
frequently occurs as a result of verification, but it may also be a
result of the student's own review of his or her data. If the student
has already been paid based on the original EFC, the award will
have to be recalculated.

2. UPDATING. Students selected for verification are required to
update three projected data elements if they change for a reason
other than a change in marital status: dependency status,
household size, and the number of family members in
postsecondary education.

3. PROFESSIONAL JUDGMENT. The aid administrator may, on a
case-by-case basis, adjust one or more of the data elements used to
calculate the EFC. The aid administrator may need to adjust the
data elements during the award year to reflect a student's changed
circumstances: For example, if a wage-earning parent dies after
the student's first semester, the aid administrator could adjust the
adjusted gross income in the EFC formula to reflect the loss of

[[Recalculation based on valid SAR or ISIR]]
[[Exception: verification extension--34 CFR 668.60(c)(1)]]
If the school receives an output document with an EFC different
from the one used for the payment calculation, the school must first
decide which document is valid. If the new information is the valid
information, in most cases the school must recalculate the student's
Pell award for the entire award year based on the new EFC.
However, there is one exception: A student selected for verification
cannot INCREASE his or her eligibility if the school obtains the
corrected output document during the "verification extension" period
(60 days after the student's last day of enrollment, not to extend
beyond August 31 following the end of the award year). For
example, if the student submits a reprocessed SAR during the
extension period and the SAR has a lower EFC than the previous
SAR (thereby increasing the student's eligibility), recalculation is
NOT permitted. The student would be paid based on the HIGHER
EFC on the SAR that was submitted earlier. However, if the
corrections REDUCE the student's eligibility (that is, if the
reprocessed SAR had a higher EFC), then the award must be
calculated based on the reprocessed SAR.


Pell payments to students in clock-hour programs and programs
without terms are always based on the full-time Payment Schedule;
therefore, no recalculation is necessary for changes in the hours
taken by students in these programs.

[[Required recalculation: student does not attend class]]
In a term program that uses credit hours, a school must calculate a
student's payment for each term based on the enrollment status and
length of enrollment for that term. If a student attended full time for
the first term and then enrolled half time in the second term, the
school must use the half-time enrollment status to adjust the student's
payment for the second term. In addition, if the student does not
begin attendance in all of his or her classes, the school must
recalculate the student's award based on the lower enrollment status.
For instance, a student registers for a full-time course load (15 hours)
but only begins attendance in three classes (9 hours); in this case, the
student's Pell must be recalculated based on the lower enrollment

[[Optional recalculation: enrollment change within a term]]
The regulations do not require any recalculation for changes in
enrollment status after the student has begun attendance in all of his
or her classes. However, the school may have a policy of
recalculating an award if a student's enrollment status changes at any
time within a term. If such a policy is established, it must be applied
consistently to all students: If the school chooses to recalculate for a
student who changes from half time to full time, it must also
recalculate for a student whose enrollment status decreases. Please
note that if the school establishes a policy allowing optional
recalculations, this policy must be in writing.

Previously, schools were also required to apply such a recalculation
policy throughout the term, so that if a school recalculated for a
student whose enrollment status changed in the first week of a term,
it also had to recalculate for a student whose status changed in the
last week of a term. Effective March 20, 1997, a school may include
as part of its policy that it will recalculate a student's award only
when the change in enrollment status occurs before a specific date in
the payment period. For example, a school may establish a policy
that it will recalculate Pell awards only for enrollment changes that
occur up to the "add/drop" date of a term. A school is not required to
establish such a date; it may continue to have a policy under which it
recalculates for changes throughout the entire term, or may continue
to perform only the required recalculations.

[[Payment when enrollment changes within a term]]
If a school does not establish a policy for recalculation within a term,
a student who begins attendance in all classes would be paid based
on the initial calculation, even if his or her enrollment status changes
before the payment is made. For instance, a student registers full
time, submits a SAR, and begins attending all of her classes. The
financial aid administrator calculates a full-time award but, by the
time the student comes to pick up the check, she has dropped to half-
time enrollment. The student is still paid based on full-time
enrollment, as long as she is still eligible for the payment. On the
other hand, if the student did not submit her SAR until after she had
dropped to half-time enrollment, the Pell calculation would be based
on the student's enrollment status at that time (half time).

(A more drastic change in enrollment status, when the student
withdraws from school completely, is discussed in Chapter 3, Section
4, "Refunds and Repayments.")


[[COA must be for full year]]
Schools are not required to recalculate Pell awards for COA changes
during the award year. However, if the school recalculates Pell
awards for a change in enrollment status, it MUST ALSO take into
account any changes in the COA at that time. For example, if a
student enrolls full time for the first semester and then drops to less-
than-half time during that semester, the student's COA will change,
because only certain cost components are allowed for less-than-half-
time students. If it is the school's policy to recalculate for the
enrollment change, it must use the cost for a less-than-half-time
student FOR A FULL YEAR to calculate the student's less-than-half-
time award. The school cannot combine the two costs or average

[[COA changes between payment periods]]
Some schools choose to recalculate awards when the COA changes
from one payment period to the next--for example, because of
changes to the student's tuition and fee costs, or because the student's
living situation changes (such as when the student moves off
campus). A school may recalculate Pell awards for cost changes
within the award year, as long as the recalculation policy is carried
out for all students whose costs change.

[[COA changes within a payment period]]
Some schools also recalculate financial aid awards when a student's
costs change WITHIN a payment period. For instance, if a student
with no dependents moves from a dormitory to off-campus housing
at midterm, the school may wish to recalculate the student's award
for that payment period. Again, for Pell purposes, such a policy is
acceptable if it is carried out for all students whose costs change
within the payment period. Note that a school may establish a policy
of recalculating for cost changes from one payment period to the
next and, at the same time, have a policy not to recalculate for cost
changes WITHIN a payment period.

Please keep in mind that the school may not recalculate the payment
for a payment period that took place BEFORE the cost change. For
instance, in the example above, if the student lives in the dormitory
during the first quarter and then moves off campus for the second
and third quarters, the recalculation would only affect the payments
for the second and third quarters.

Last Modified: 07/28/1998