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Financial Aid

Federal Pell Grant

Federal Pell Grants are grants awarded to eligible students who have not already earned a bachelor's degree. For 2020-2021, awards range from $652 to $6,195 for the academic year for full-time enrollment.

The Federal Pell Grant is the largest federal student aid gift assistance program available to undergraduates. To determine eligibility, a student must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Based on the information submitted, the federal processor calculates an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) that determines the applicant's entitlement. The amount of the grant is also affected by enrollment status (full-time or part-time).

New Pell Grant Regulation:
In December 2011, President Obama signed into law the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2012 (Public Law 112-74). This law has significantly impacted the Federal Pell Grant Program. The new law reduces the duration of Federal Pell Grant eligibility to 12 semesters or 600% Lifetime Eligibility of Pell Grant. Beginning with the 2012-2013 school year, this change affects all students regardless of when or where they received their first Pell Grant.

Students who are affected will be notified by the Central Processing System (CPS), the system that processes your FAFSA. If you have used at least 450% of your LEU, you will be notified via email. Check the email account you provided on your FAFSA.

How is the LEU calculated?
The LEU is calculated for each academic year, beginning with 1977-1978 and is based on the annual award. Each full-time semester equates to 50% of your total LEU which yields a maximum percentage of 600% for 12 semesters. Once you have used 600% of your Federal Pell eligibility, you are ineligible for further Pell Grant awards. 

Sample annual calculations:

  • If you received a full-time Pell award for both the fall and spring semesters, you have used 100% of your 600% lifetime eligibility.
  • If you received a half-time award in the fall semester and a full-time award in the spring semester, you have used 75% of your lifetime eligibility.
  • If you received a half-time award for both fall and spring semesters, you have used 50% of your lifetime eligibility.

How to track your Pell LEU percentage:
To track your Pell Grant history and your LEU percentage, visit NSLDS Student Access at This site is updated regularly with your Pell Grant awards as they are reported.

Can I appeal my Pell lifetime eligibility?
Pell LEU is not appealable. Federal Pell Grant limits are set by Federal law.  If you rely on Pell Grant funding, be conscientious about the lifetime limits when changing majors and/or determining your course load each semester.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)

This grant is awarded to eligible full-time undergraduate students who have not already earned a bachelor's degree and who have exceptional need. Students must maintain satisfactory academic progress to receive FSEOG assistance. Awards range from $250 to $1,000 per academic year and are dependent on the level of federal funding received by UofSC Aiken.

Application requires submission of the FAFSA. FAFSA results received by the USC Aiken Office of Financial Aid by March 1st will receive priority consideration. Follow-up documents, if required, should be submitted to the Office of Financial Aid promptly to ensure consideration for these funds. Funding is limited and awards are made on a first-come, first-served basis.

South Carolina Need-based Grant

This program awards up to $2,500 per academic year at USC Aiken to South Carolina residents demonstrating financial need. 

Application requires submission of the FAFSA. FAFSA results received by the USC Aiken Office of Financial Aid by March 1st will receive priority consideration. Follow-up documents, if required, should be submitted to the Office of Financial Aid promptly to ensure consideration for these funds. Funding is limited and awards are made on a first-come, first-served basis.

General Eligibility Requirements
To receive the South Carolina Need-based Grant, a student at USC Aiken:

  • Must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and have financial need as defined by Title IV regulations. Priority is given to FAFSA results received in the UofSC Aiken Office of Financial Aid by March 1st. Funding is limited, and awards are made on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Must be a legal resident of the state of South Carolina.
  • Must be a full-time, undergraduate student seeking a first baccalaureate degree.
  • Must never have been adjudicated delinquent and never have been convicted of or pled guilty or nolo contendere to any felony in any state.
  • Must not have been convicted of or pled guilty or nolo contendere to a second or subsequent alcohol or drug-related misdemeanor in any state within 12 months prior to the period of the award.
  • Must not be in default or owe a refund or repayment on any federal or state financial aid.
  • Must be making satisfactory academic progress.
  • Must enroll in a minimum of 12 hours for the Fall semester and 12 hours for the Spring semester. 

Eligibility Requirements for Continuing Students

  • Must meet all general eligibility requirements.
  • If you received the SC Need-based Grant in the previous year, you must have earned at least 24 hours during the Fall and Spring semesters of that award year.
  • Must have a minimum cumulative 2.0 GPA.

Terms of Eligibility
The SC Need-based Grant may be received for no more than eight semesters.

Award Amount
For the 2020-2021 academic year, the maximum SC Need-based Grant award amount at USC Aiken is $2,000.

Note: The SC Need-based Grant in combination with all other scholarships and grants may not exceed the cost-of-attendance as defined in Title IV regulations.

Dropping a Class or Withdrawing
If you are receiving the SC Need-based Grant or any other financial aid, dropping a class or withdrawing may affect your refund. Depending upon the type(s) of financial aid awards involved, the timing of the withdrawal, the amount of the refund and other factors, the financial aid recipient might receive a portion of the total refund amount or none of the refund amount.

Under certain circumstances, the financial aid recipient that withdraws or drops classes will be required to repay financial aid funds received. A student that drops below full-time enrollment (a minimum of 12 USCA hours) before the end of the 100% refund period  (the end of the first week of classes), will not be eligible for the South Carolina Need-based Grant for the current semester. Repayment of SC Need-based Grant funds disbursed will be required.

A student who is considering withdrawing or dropping a class should consult a Financial Aid Administrator before taking this action.

For Further Information
You may access further information on the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education website at   

You may also contact the USC Aiken Office of Financial Aid if you have further questions or if you need additional information: 

471 University Parkway, Aiken, SC  29801
Phone: 803-641-3476 
Fax: 803-643-6840
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Please be aware that the information provided here is subject to change by the SC Legislature or the SC Commission on Higher Education. 


The Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant was established by the federal government in 2007 to encourage highly qualified teachers to serve low income schools in high-need fields. Institutional participation in the program is optional.

TEACH Grant applicants must complete the FAFSA and enroll in a program (major) that prepares them to teach in either a federally defined high-need field¹ or in a field classified as high-need by state².

As a requirement for receiving a TEACH Grant, students must agree to teach a majority of classes in a high-need field at a low-income³ public or private elementary or secondary school, as a highly-qualified teacher. Students must teach full-time for at least four academic years within the first eight years of completing the program of study for which the TEACH Grant was received.

TEACH Grants will be converted into Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans, with interest accrued from the date of disbursement of each grant received, for students who do not meet, in full, all required teaching obligations. TEACH Grants converted into loans can never be converted back into grants.

Eligibility Requirements

USC Aiken students will need to meet the following criteria in order to be eligible for the TEACH Grant:

  • Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
  • Be enrolled in a program of study (including MAT5) that is designed to prepare you to teach as a highly qualified teacher in a high-need field that leads to a bachelor's or master's degree. Students seeking a second bachelor's degree are not eligible for the TEACH Grant.
  • Federal high-need areas include: Bilingual Education and English Language Acquisition, foreign language, mathematics, reading specialist, science, special education.
  • South Carolina high-need areas for 2020-2021 include: Academically Advanced (Gifted) Education; Agricultural Science and Technology; Art; Business, Marketing, and Information Technology (BMIT); Dance; Family and Consumer Science; French; German; Health Science; Latin; Library/Media Specialist; Literacy; Middle Level/Secondary Education Only (Drivers' Education, English, Industrial Technology, Math, Science, and Social Studies); Music; Physical Education; Spanish; Speech Language Pathology; and Theatre. (Not all majors are offered at USC Aiken.)
  • Out of State High-Need Teacher Subject Areas as of the time recipients receive the grant or as of the time they begin teaching in that field.
  • USC Aiken has determined that Elementary Education and Early Childhood Education are not eligible programs of study for the Federal TEACH Grant.
  • GPA or test scores:
  • New Freshmen:
    • Have a high school GPA of 3.25 or greater on a 4.00 scale OR have a test score on a nationally recognized college admissions test (e.g. SAT or ACT) that is above the 75th percentile. UofSC Aiken's Office of Admissions does not receive the percentile of your scores. You would need to provide this documentation to the financial aid office. You may be charged a fee to receive archived SAT/ACT scores. Therefore, you may want to first check with your high school to see if they can provide the information.
    • Note - New freshmen cannot be reviewed for the TEACH Grant until the final high school transcript has been received and processed by UofSC Aiken.
  • New Transfer Students:
    • Your transfer GPA must be 3.25 or higher OR have a test score on a nationally recognized college admissions test (e.g. SAT or ACT) above the 75th percentile. Your GPA will be calculated using only the courses and grades that have been accepted toward your degree program at UofSC Aiken.
  • New Graduate Students:
    • Have at least a 3.25 cumulative GPA in undergraduate program OR have a test score on a nationally recognized college admissions test (e.g. SAT, ACT, GRE) above the 75th percentile.
  • Teachers Seeking a Graduate Degree:
    • No GPA is required for current teachers or retirees from another occupation with expertise in a high-need field who are seeking a master's degree, as well as current or former teachers who are completing a high-quality alternative certification, such as Teach for America.
  • Continuing Students (Undergraduate and Graduate):
    • Maintain a cumulative UofSC Aiken GPA of at least 3.25 OR have a test score on a nationally recognized college admissions test (e.g. SAT or ACT) above the 75th percentile.

How to Apply

If you meet the requirements for the TEACH Grant, please contact the Office of Financial Aid to begin the process and secure the application. Applications are then to be taken to the School of Education for certification of program enrollment. Students who received the TEACH Grant in the previous academic year are required to reapply.

The School of Education will send completed applications to the Office of Financial Aid for awarding of the funding.

After You Apply

Once you have been awarded, you will be required to accept the award in Self Service Carolina. You will also be instructed to complete the online Agreement to Serve and Entrance Counseling with the Department of Education before your TEACH Grant can be disbursed to your student account. To access the Agreement to Serve and complete Entrance Counseling, you will go to

The amount of your Teach Grant disbursement each semester will depend on the number of credit hours you are enrolled in (75% of award for three-quarter time enrollment; 50% of award for half-time enrollment; 25% of award for less than half-time enrollment). You must maintain eligibility to receive the TEACH Grant (e.g. eligible major and GPA). A student's eligibility will be reviewed prior to each TEACH Grant disbursement.

Undergraduate students can receive up to $16,000 in TEACH Grant funding during their program. Graduate students can receive up to $8,000 in TEACH Grant funding during their program.

After Graduation or Not Enrolled in School

You will have 8 years to complete your four year teaching service obligation. It can only be fulfilled at a low income area school. Your teaching service must be in a high-need field.

You must provide the U.S. Department of Education with documentation of your progress toward completing your service obligation. If you do not keep them informed, or do not meet the requirements of your service obligation, all TEACH Grant funds you received will be converted to a Direct Unsubsidized Loan with interest charged from the date the TEACH Grant was disbursed.

Questions regarding the TEACH Grant may be directed to our office. Additional information can also be found online at

¹ Federally defined high-need fields:
  Bilingual Education and English Language Acquisition 
  Foreign Language
  Reading Specialist
  Special Education

² Department of Education's Annual Teacher Shortage Area Nationwide Listing (by state):

³ Department of Education's Annual Directory of Designated Low-Income Schools for Teacher Cancellation Benefits: go to and click on the Search button.