Federal Pell Grant

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Federal Pell Grant for 2016-2017

The Federal Pell Grant is the largest federal grant program and is the foundation of a student's total "aid package." Eligibility is determined by the federal government using a standard formula for all applicants.

For the 2016-2017 academic year, the maximum Pell Grant is $5,815 based on full-time enrollment for the school year (Fall 2016 and Spring 2017). Pell Grant awards are adjusted if you enroll in less than 12 units per semester.

Enrollment status


  For the 2016-2017 academic year, the enrollment status for each semester including summer is:
Full-time 12 or more units
¾-time 9 to 11.5 units
½-time 6 to 8.5 units
Less than ½-time Less than 6 units

Your enrollment status will be frozen after the add/drop period each semester and will be the basis for your Pell Grant disbursement. Once your Pell Grant award has been processed and your enrollment status for the semester has been determined it will not be adjusted if you add units after the freeze date. The freeze dates for the Fall and Spring semesters along with the main disbursement dates are posted on the Payment Dates webpage.

Lifetime Eligibility limits for pell grant

Effective July 1, 2012, new federal regulations limits the receipt of a Pell Grant for all students to a lifetime limit of 6 full-time years or 600%. This includes Pell Grant received at community colleges, vocational schools and four year public and private universities. This limit will be tracked by the U.S. Department of Education.

Regardless of the Pell Grant award amount, if you receive the full year payment or disbursement then you have received 100% of your award.

For example, if your Pell Grant for the year is for $5,000 and you receive $2,500 in Fall, $1,500 in Spring and the remaining $1,000 in Summer. You have received the entire $5,000 or 100% of your award for the year.

Fall $2,500 (50%) Spring $1,500 (30%)
Summer $1,000 (20%)

The 600% total eligibility applies at all schools and colleges. However, once you have earned a Bachelor’s Degree, you are no longer eligible for a Pell Grant even if you haven’t reached the 600% limit. You must continue to meet and maintain satisfactory academic progress standards to remain eligible each year. It is very important that you follow your educational plan so you can successfully complete your degree or transfer to a four year university before your eligibility expires.


Crossover Period Policy for 2009-2010 Academic Year*

To implement the Second Pell Grant (Year Round Pell) for the Crossover Period of 2009-2010, the San Diego Community College District (SDCCD) Financial Aid Offices will follow the following policy:

  •  SDCCD will award 2009-2010 Second Pell Grants to all students who meet Second Pell Grant eligibility based on their 2009-2010 ISIR and will not make a comparison to their 2010-2011 ISIR.
  • SDCCD will not review academic year progression for 2009-2010 eligibility.
  • Effective July 1, 2010, SDCCD will award 2010-2011 First Pell Grants to new incoming students who qualify based on their 2010-2011 ISIR , are enrolled for the Summer 10 term and who do not have a 2009-2010 ISIR.
* This policy has been agreed to by the FAO, Greg Sanchez, FAO, Gilda Maldonado, FAO, Teresa Vilaboy, Supervisor, Maria Del Pilar Ezeta, Supervisor, Alisia Acevedo, Technical Analyst, Katie Phan on this date of April 21, 2010 at the San Diego Community District.  Policy and interpretation taken from Department of Education Webinar, Pell Grant Term-Based Credit Hour Schools (April 13, 2010) and U.S Department of Education, Two Pell Grant In An Award Year,(March 2010).

This page was last updated on July 12, 2016.