On July 1, a new rule that is part of the FAFSA Simplification Act goes into effect. The new rule eliminates the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant and instead switches eligible students over to the Pell Grant … but with some changes. These changes enable more students to qualify for the maximum Pell Grant amount under the new rule.

The Changes

Normally the amount a student receives in Pell Grant money is dependent on their family’s ability to pay tuition and other school costs. However eligible children of fallen service members will automatically receive the maximum Pell Grant amount regardless of their family’s ability to pay. Right now, that full amount for the 2024/2025 school year is $7,395.

Another rule change is that the maximum age limit to claim the Pell Grant money increased by nine years for eligible students.
Because Pell Grants do not fall under sequestration as did the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants, students end up with more money from their grant. Sequestration is a percentage reduction mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011.

For the 2024/2025 school year, the reduction percentage for the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant was going to be 5.7% meaning that out of the $7,395, the grant would have been reduced by $421.51 to cover the administrative fee.

Eligibility Requirements

The requirements for this special group of students to receive the maximum amount in Pell Grant money are:

  • Must be less than 33 years old as of January 1st of the next school year. For example, if you are going to go to school during the 2024/2025 school year, you can’t be over the age of 33 on January 1, 2024.
  • A student’s parent must have died in the line of duty while on active duty on or after September 11, 2001. This is a change as, under the Service Grant, the fallen service member must have died performing duty in Iraq or Afghanistan after the September 11 date.

The PACT Act

Some students during the 2023/2024 school year were eligible for the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant due to the PACT Act where their parent’s death was presumed to be service-connected. This included death presumed to be caused by exposure to at least one of these causes covered under the PACT Act:

  • Radiation
  • Agent Orange
  • Persian Gulf War Syndrome
  • Burn Pit and Toxic Chemicals

Students who have received at least one Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant disbursement will be grandfathered in as eligible under the new Pell Grant rule. However, those who were eligible but did not apply for the benefit are not eligible now to receive the benefit – only those who have applied and received at least one disbursement under the PACT Act.

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Kness retired in November 2007 as a Senior Noncommissioned Officer after serving 36 years of service with the Minnesota Army National Guard of which 32 of those years were in a full-time status along with being a traditional guardsman. Kness takes pride in being able to still help veterans, military members, and families as they struggle through veteran and dependent education issues.