Federal Pell Grants

Federal Pell Grant funds are not required to be repaid and are awarded to undergraduate students who have not earned a bachelor’s or professional degree. Eligibility for the Federal Pell Grant is partially determined by the number of credit hours in which the student is enrolled during the semester and the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). South Texas College will mail award notifications showing student eligibility for Federal Pell Grant funds assuming that the students will take at least 12 credit hours per semester.

The Student Financial Services Office adjusts the amount of Pell Grant that students receive if the number of credit hours they are enrolled in, changes through the census date of each semester or term.

For more information on eligibility requirements please refer to the sections that follow, on the award letter, and on South Texas College’s website at: http://studentservices.southtexascollege.edu/finaid/.

Award Amounts
Awards are partially based on your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) as determined by the FAFSA and by a student’s level of enrollment. How much you may receive will depend on your EFC, your cost of attendance, your enrollment status, and whether you attend school for a full academic year. You may only receive Pell Grant funds from one institution at a time.

Levels of Enrollment Equivalent credit hours
Full Time 12 or more credit hours
Three Quarter Time 9-11 credit hours
Half Time 6-8 credit hours
Less Than Half Time* 5 credit hours or less

*Students enrolled less than half time may still receive a Pell Grant award if their EFC allows it.

Eligibility determination
To determine if you are eligible, the U.S. Department of Education uses a standard formula, to evaluate the information you report when you apply through the Free Application of Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The formula produces an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) number. The lower the EFC number, the more aid the student is eligible for. Your Institutional Student Information Record (ISIR) contains this number and will tell you if you are eligible.

To be considered for Pell Grant Eligibility, you must:

  • Fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid,
  • Meet all Department of Education eligibility requirements including but not limited to:
    • Having a high school diploma or a General Education Development (GED) Certificate,
    • Registering with the Selective Services, if required,
    • Being a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen,
    • Having a valid Social Security Number,
  • Be enrolled or accepted for enrollment as a regular student working toward a degree or certificate in an eligible program,
  • Meet the standards of the Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy (FA SAP).

Additional Requirements
South Texas College Student Financial Services Office monitors requirements that can affect your eligibility for Federal Pell Grant funds, including but not limited to:

  1. Your continued enrollment within a semester: if you withdraw/are withdrawn, you may be required to repay funds awarded to you. More information on this can be found at http://studentservices.southtexascollege.edu/finaid/withdrawals.html
  2. Your grades: i if you do not earn at least one passing grade in a semester, you may be required to repay funds awarded to you. More information can be found at http://studentservices.southtexascollege.edu/finaid/fail.html
  3. Developmental courses you attempt: we may only fund 30 credit hours of developmental work over a student’s educational career. If a Pell eligible student attempts their 11th or greater developmental course, that course cannot be counted in the students’ enrollment status. See  http://studentservices.southtexascollege.edu/finaid/developmental.html
  4. Repeated Coursework: Beginning July 1, 2011, the definition of a full-time student was amended to allow
    repeated coursework to count toward enrollment status in term-based programs. See http://studentservices.southtexascollege.edu/finaid/repeat_coursework.html
  5. Lifetime Eligibility Used: Effective July 1, 2012 students may only receive a Pell Grant for six years of full-time enrollment (equivalent to 12 semesters or 600%) during their lifetime. This change affects all students regardless of when or where they received their first Pell Grant. The maximum amount of Pell Grant funding that a student may receive each year is equal to 100% or 150% if eligible for Year Round Pell. See http://studentservices.southtexascollege.edu/finaid/lifetime_eligibility_used.html
  6. Unusual Enrollment History: Beginning award year 2013-2014 and forward, new regulations have been
    established to prevent fraud and abuse in the Federal Pell Grant and/or Direct Loan Programs by identifying students with unusual enrollment histories. The Student Financial Services Department is required to review the student’s enrollment and financial aid record to determine if, during the past four award years the student has legitimate reasons for the unusual enrollment history. See http://studentservices.southtexascollege.edu/finaid/unusual_enrollment_history.html

Attendance Verification
The U.S. Department of Education requires that schools are able to document that students are actually in attendance to finalize their Federal Pell Grant eligibility. For example, if a student doesn’t begin attendance in all of his or her classes, the school must recalculate the student’s award based on the lower enrollment status. A student is considered to have begun attendance in all of his or her classes if the student attends at least one day of class for each course in which that student’s enrollment status was determined for Federal Pell Grant eligibility.

In a distance education context, documenting that a student has logged into an online class is not sufficient, by itself, to demonstrate academic attendance by the student. A school must demonstrate that a student participated in class or was otherwise engaged in an academically related activity, such as by contributing to an online discussion or initiating contact with a faculty member to ask a course-related question. A definition of attendance for Financial Aid Purposes can be found at http://studentservices.southtexascollege.edu/finaid/attendance_definition.html

South Texas College documents attendance for Federal Pell Grant purposes by collecting on-line rosters from all instructors. The instructors use the rosters to indicate whether a student has attended or not. Students must attend each class that they are enrolled in, at least once at the beginning of each term to be counted as being in attendance in that class for Federal Pell Grant eligibility purposes.

In cases where students do not attend class at least once, Federal Pell Grant eligibility will be adjusted based on the enrollment status for the number of credits that they are actually attending. If this adjustment results in a student not having sufficient grant funds to pay for any charges or advances that they have incurred or received, that student will be responsible to pay South Texas College for the difference between their adjusted eligibility and the original amount of the cost of their tuition and fees as well as any advances that the student received.

Fund Disbursements
South Texas College will credit Pell Grant funds to your school account to pay for tuition, fees and other school related costs which appear on your student account (institutional charges). If you are eligible for funds in excess of your institutional charges, after completing eligibility verification, South Texas College will pay you the difference directly by: a)mailing you a check, or b)depositing into your personal bank account. Book allowance and final refund release dates are provided to students before the start of each semester; they are published at http://studentservices.southtexascollege.edu/finaid/book_allowances.html

Declining Pell Grant Funds
You may decline all or part of your disbursement of Pell Grant funds that you are otherwise eligible to receive. You may wish to take this action if you expect to qualify for a larger Pell Grant in future years as a result of an expected transfer to a more expensive educational institution or an expected change in your expected family contribution. If you are going to return all or a portion of Pell Grant funds, you must deliver to our Student Financial Services Department a signed, written statement clearly indicating that you are declining Pell Grant funds for which you are otherwise eligible and that you understand that those funds may not be available once the award year is over.

Returning Pell Grant Funds
You may return all or a portion of Pell Grant funds that you are otherwise eligible to receive, as long as this action is taken during the same award year. You must deliver to our Student Financial Services Department a signed, written statement clearly indicating that you are returning Pell Grant funds for which you are otherwise eligible and that you understand that those funds may not be available once the award year is over. After the statement is submitted, you will then need to return the funds directly to the STC Cashiers Office.

Year Round Pell
Beginning summer 2018, Pell Grant eligible students can receive up to 150% of their scheduled Pell award each year. What does this mean? If student received full Pell Grant amount, for example, in Fall 2019 and Spring 2020 semesters, he/she may qualify for Pell Grant in Summer 2020, from the next award year. This is referred to as Year Round Pell (YRP).

To be eligible for a summer Year Round Pell, student must:

  • Have completed Financial Aid File for current Award year
  • Be Pell Grant eligible
  • Be registered at least 6+ credit hours
  • Be meeting Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress
  • Have lifetime Pell Grant eligibility remaining; students can check this at https://nslds.ed.gov/npas/index.htm using their FSA ID credentials to log in.

Year Round Pell VS Summer Pell Grant Remainder

  • Year Round Pell: If student registered full time and received full time Pell Grant in fall and spring, student must register at least 6 credit hours in summer to receive Year Round Pell Grant. 
  • Pell Grant Remainder: If student registered part-time in fall or spring, student can use the remainder of his/her current award year Pell Grant amount with no minimum credit hours requirement to receive it, assuming student meets Pell EFC and other eligibility requirements OR
  • Combination: If student registered part-time in fall or spring, student can receive a combination of the Pell remainder amount of current award year and Year Round Pell, up to a semester’s worth of the Pell Grant award, but student must be registered 6 credit hours at least and must meet eligibility requirements discussed above.

Most Beneficial
Also, if student applies for financial aid for next award year and is eligible for a higher amount of Pell Grant, (lower EFC), and completes his/her next award year financial aid file and meets all eligibility requirements, student will receive the Pell Grant award that is most beneficial, that is, the one with a lower EFC.

YRP Example
A student with an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) of 0 is eligible for $5000 in Pell Grant for the year, or $2500 for the Fall 2019 semester and 2500 for the Spring 2020 semester. Assuming student went full time in fall and spring, under YRP rules, this student could receive an additional $2500 for the Summer 2020, if he/she registered 12 credit hours.

If the same student registered 6 credit hours instead of 12, in the Summer 2020, the student would receive a $1250 Pell Grant award.

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