Maximum Time Frame to Complete First Undergraduate Degree
Incoming transfer students and currently enrolled students who have changed their majors need to be aware that federal , state, and institutional aid programs set a maximum time frame for students to complete their designated degree objective.
Students need to work closely with their academic advisors to make sure that they stay on schedule to complete their academic requirements within these guidelines.
Federal Student Aid Programs
Pell Grant Program Changes Effective July 1, 2012
On December 23, 2011, President Obama signed into law the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2012 (Public Law 112-74). The new law significantly impacts the Federal student aid programs authorized under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA).
The law amended the Higher Education Act to reduce the duration of a student’s eligibility to receive a Federal Pell Grant from 18 semesters (or its equivalent) to 12 semesters (or its equivalent). This provision applies to all Federal Pell Grant eligible students effective with the 2012-13 award year. The calculation of the duration of a student’s eligibility will include all years of the student’s receipt of Federal Pell Grant funding. This change in the duration of students’ Federal Pell Grant eligibility is not limited only to students who received their first Federal Pell Grant on or after the 2008-2009 award year, as the HEA previously provided when the duration of eligibility was 18 semesters.
The Department of Education will calculate the Pell Grant duration for a student by adding together each of the annual percentages of a student’s scheduled award that was actually disbursed to the student.
- For example, a student whose 2010-2011 Federal Pell Grant scheduled award was $5,550, but who received $2,775 because she was only enrolled for one semester, will have used 50 percent of that award year’s scheduled award.
- If this same student was enrolled three-quarter time for the 2011-2012 Award Year, she would have used 75 percent of her scheduled award for the year.
- If this student and she did not receive Pell Grant funds for any other award year, her total Lifetime Eligibility Used ("LEU") would be 125 percent (50 plus 75) after the 2011-2012 academic year.
Interim Communications to Students
In mid-April, the Department of Education will begin sending e-mail messages to all 2012-2013 FAFSA applicants who appear to be Pell Grant eligible and whose records indicate that they have received Pell Grant disbursements that are in excess of 450 percent of their Pell Grant lifetime eligibility. This process will be repeated weekly until July for FAFSA filers and for filers making corrections to their FAFSA information.
Satisfactory Academic Progress Regulations for other Federal Programs
Federal regulations (Sections 668.16(e).668.32(f) and 668.34) require that schools monitor the academic progress of each applicant for federal financial assistance and that the school certify that the applicant is making satisfactory academic progress toward earning his/her degree. This determination of progress must be made at least once a year and before the financial aid office disburses any federal aid funds for the subsequent semester.
Maximum hours to earn degree: To quantify academic progress, a school must set a maximum time frame in which a student is expected to complete a program. For an undergraduate program, the maximum time frame cannot exceed 150% of the published length of the program measured in credit hours attempted.
The majority of undergraduate programs require 120 hours for graduation. The maximum time frame for students in these programs is 180 attempted hours (120 x 1.5=180). Students whose programs require more than 120 hours for a degree will have a higher limit.
- As expressed in years: students are normally expected to complete an undergraduate degree by the end of 4 years of full-time study. Therefore, students will forfeit their eligibility to participate in federal financial aid programs after 6 years of full time enrollement ( 4 x 150% = 6 ) .
- Students working on a second undergraduate degree
Updated April 12, 2012