Pell Grant

What is Federal Pell Grants ?

The Pell Grant is a federal subsidy given to students after secondary education. Pell Grants are awarded based on financial need. Unlike student loans, there is no need to repay, except in rare cases. Pell grants are awarded only to graduate students who have not earned an undergraduate or professional degree. (A professional degree is one obtained after a bachelor's degree in a field such as business, medicine or law.). In some cases, you may receive a Pell grant to participate in a post-graduate teacher certificate program. Pell grants are usually the basis for financial aid, to which aid from other federal and non-federal sources may be added.

Pell grants are usually the basis for financial aid, and often determine your eligibility for other federal grant programs, such as the Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG) and the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG). Federal Pell grants are another source of financial aid, to help students pay for college. This is the largest grant program offered by the Department of Education to undergraduate students. The federal Pell Grants Program was created in 1972 and has been providing grants to students since the 1973-1974 school year. Claiborne Pell of Rhode Island, the main sponsor of the event. Pell Grants are provided by the U.S. Department of Education to help low-income qualified students pay for fees, tuition, room and board, other educational expenses, and college costs. Students who wish to apply for a Pell grant must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid called the FAFSA.

The maximum annual Pell Grant is $6,495 for the 2022-2023 school year. There's also a limit to how much you can get in total. The government calculates your Lifetime Eligibility Used (LEU) percentage to keep track of when you're receiving a Pell grant. You can see how much you have left to go by by logging into your My Ed account (the Department of Education's federal student aid website). Your eligibility for a Pell grant ends when you receive your degree. For students to continue to receive Pell Grants, they must demonstrate that they are making "satisfactory academic progress" toward their degree.

Federal Pell Grant Facts

  • Pell Grant is a form of need based federal financial aid.
  • The Pell Grant is usually not repaid, which makes it highly desirable.
  • Pell Grants are awarded based on financial need.
  • Applicants must apply for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) each year to qualify.
  • You can apply for the Pell Grant free of charge.
  • Individual schools determine how much grant money is awarded to each student under the Pell Grant, up to the federal maximum.
  • The maximum Pell Grant award is $6,495.
  • To be eligible to receive a Pell grant, you must meet the general federal student aid eligibility requirements.

How Pell Grant Works ?

Pell Grants require students and their parents to fill out the government's Free Application for FAFSA. The application can be completed online. The application asks a range of questions about student and parent finances, among other pertinent information, such as whether or not the student will have any siblings in college at the same time. Students who apply will receive an electronic copy of the application. Financial aid officials at schools determine how much federal aid to provide to the student using the FAFSA. Pell grants are only for undergraduate students, although there are exceptions for some postgraduate teacher training programs.

School calculations, the cost of that school's attendance to calculate the student's financial need (COA includes school fees, tuition, books, room, board, and other expenses) and expected family contributions calculated by the FAFSA ( The EFC considers the difference between student and family income and assets, such as bank and investment accounts. To bridge the gap between the EFC and the COA, the school may offer the student a Pell Grant, paid work-study jobs, and a combination of subsidized and unsubsidized federal loans.

Do Pell Grants Have to Pay ?

Pell grants generally represent money that does not have to be paid back. But there are situations when you may have to pay part or all of your grant. These include dropping out of a program of study, changing your attendance from full-time to part-time for which you were awarded a grant and receiving any other grants or scholarships that reduce student eligibility for federal aid. If this happens, the student should tell the school how much is owed and how to pay it.

Who is Eligible for Pell Grant ?

The U.S. Department of Education determines your financial need by taking the information you provide when applying for a Pell Grant and plugging it into a standard formula to produce a number called Required Family Contribution. The EFC is then compared with the expected cost of attending your college for which you are eligible for financial aid.

Pell Grant Eligibility

The following are the basic eligibility requirements for a Federal Pell Grant:
  • The Pell Grant is awarded to undergraduate students who require a high level of financial aid.
  • Pell grants are typically awarded only to undergraduate students and do not earn graduate, bachelor's or professional degrees.
  • Must be a US citizen or eligible non-citizen
  • Common qualifications include whether you have a financial need,
  • Are enrolled in an eligible degree or certificate program at your college or career school.
  • Earned a high school diploma or GED or completed high school in an approved home-school setting.
  • Student eligibility will be determined by the FAFSA.
  • Those students may be eligible for need-based funding with households with a total income of up to $50,000. But most Pell grant money goes to students with a total family income of less than $20,000.
  • After you apply for the FAFSA, the U.S. Department of Education evaluates the information you report using a standard formula established by Congress.
  • After completing the application, the student will receive a confirmation e-mail and a link to the Student Aid Report or SAR.
  • Your information is also sent to the school you indicated on your FAFSA.
  • Students will also be able to see their Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and the amount you are eligible for.
  • Students who are imprisoned in a state or federal institution who have been convicted of certain crimes are not eligible for Pell Grants. (Once the individual is released, the eligibility limit for federal student aid may be removed.)
  • See more Pell Grant eligibility information.

What should I do to maintain the Pell Grants ?

To continue receiving Pell Grants, students and their parents must fill out a new FAFSA each year. Students must also demonstrate that they are making "satisfactory academic progress" toward their degree or other goal, such as a certificate. Satisfactory academic progress is defined by each individual school and may include a certain number of credits, maintaining a minimum grade-point average, or other factors. If a student is convicted of a crime or defaults on student loans, they may lose eligibility for a grant. You must maintain enrollment in an undergraduate course of study at a non-foreign school and you must fill out a FAFSA form at the school each year in order for you to be eligible for federal student aid.

How Much Is the Pell Grant ?

The maximum Pell Grant award is $7,395 for the 2023 award year. This may change annually and depends on program funding. How much assistance you get depends on your EFC and your COA. Students can only receive one Pell grant a year. You cannot receive Pell grant money from more than one school at a time. Being eligible for this grant opens the door to most other federal grant programs. The information entered into the FAFSA can change from year to year, leading to different Pell Grant award amounts. The amount awarded to a student is applicable for the entire award year from July 1 to June 30. If the family's financial situation changes after filing the FAFSA, the family can file an appeal with their school, potentially awarding the student a larger Pell Grant.

What Happens to Unused Pell Grant Money ?

Your school will first apply money from your Pell Grant for your fees, tuition, room and board. If there is anything left in your account (credit balance) after that, the school must pay it to you within 14 days. (Unless you have authorized the school to apply it for your future bills.) Federal funds are distributed at least twice each school term or year.

How will I be awarded the money ?

Pell Grant Disbursement : Your school may credit the Pell Grant amount to your school account or pay you directly. The student must tell the school in writing how and when you will be paid Pell Grant, and how much you will receive in grant money. Schools must pay at least once per term (semester, trimester or quarter). Schools that do not use the defined terms must pay the student at least twice per academic year.

How to Apply for Pell Grant ?

The Pell Grant application process is similar to any federal financial aid process. The student must apply for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) free of charge. Pell Grant assistance is given on a first-come, first-served basis so be sure to complete and submit the FAFSA by October 1st as soon as possible. You must reapply for a Pell Grant each year by submitting a FAFSA. The FAFSA will determine the student's eligibility and then the Financial Aid Officer will use the EFC number generated by the form to determine the award amount. 
  • To receive a Pell Grant is to complete and submit the FAFSA. You must submit a Pell Grant Application. Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form.
  • Students may request a FAFSA paper from the Federal Student Aid Information Center (FSAIC) at 800-4-FED-AID (433-3243). Contact your chosen college to find out your preferred filing deadline for the FAFSA.

How to Check Pell Grant Status ?

To check Pell Grant eligibility status, you can check the status of your FAFSA by logging into your account at FAFSA.