Pell Grants cover costs for part-time students, as long as the student fulfills the eligibility criteria. However, the U.S. Department of Education awards less money to part-time students than full-time students.
For full-time students, the maximum award amount is $5,550 and the minimum amount is $1,176. Part-time students receive reduced amounts depending on whether they enroll quarter-time, half-time or three-quarter-time. Half-time students are eligible to receive half of what full-time students receive: a maximum of $2,775.
President Obama signed the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA) into law in March 2010. SAFRA removed the minimum enrollment requirement and now allows students to apply Pell Grant money to summer classes. In addition to increasing the amount of each Pell Grant, SAFRA allows eligible students to receive one Pell Grant per semester instead of one Pell Grant per academic year.
SAFRA aims to increase student aid to those most in need of professional training, in order to buttress the existing workforce and prepare a stronger and better-trained workforce for the future. By removing the minimum enrollment requirement, SAFRA helps those students that benefit most from furthering their education but that have other responsibilities which may prevent them from enrolling full-time, such as single parents, older students and working students.
Part-time students must meet the same eligibility requirements as full-time students in order to receive a Pell Grant. Students must demonstrate financial need, which according to Pell Grant Eligibility means an expected family income (EFC) of less than $5,273. The New Jersey Department of Labor recommends telling your financial aid office if you are unemployed and the news outlet Campus Explorer recommends making the office aware of any dependents you have. You must also be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident studying toward your first bachelor’s degree.
Calla Hummel is a doctoral student studying contraband in international political economy. She supplements her student stipend by writing about personal finance and working as a consultant, as well as hoping that her investments will pan out.