Year-round Pell starts with 2017-18 award year

Under the terms of the law that reinstated it, the Year-round Pell Grant (YPG) program will start with the 2017-18 award year, which begins July 1. Students cannot receive an extra Pell award for the 2016-17 award year.

The award-year rules allow colleges to decide whether summer terms that straddle the July 1 date constitute the last term of the preceding award year or the first term of the coming award year. More schools may choose the latter option this year, knowing that YPG is in place for the 2017-18 award year. However, the department is not expected to issue guidance on YPG until later this month, which may be too late for swaying that choice in most circumstances.

Funding and eligibility for the newly reinstated YPG program will follow the usual award rules, according to Education Department officials.

“We know some schools have had questions about how YPG will affect the coming summer term,” said James Hermes, associate vice president of government relations at the American Association of Community Colleges. “Because YPG does not start until the 2017-18 award year, most of the effect, in terms of students receiving additional Pell awards, will probably come around this time next year.”

At a hearing this week on the Trump administration’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2018 — which begins October 1 — U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was questioned about how the department would implement year-round Pell. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Missouri), chair of the Senate education appropriations subcommittee, said he hopes the rules won’t make it more difficult for students who want to use year-round Pell for courses this summer.

DeVos said the department would “honor the intent of Congress to leave the maximum amount of flexibility for students.”

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