Federal Pell Grants Eligibility and Requirements

By: Barbara M., Published: Feb 27, 2020 | Related: Pell Grants Qualification


If you've ever looked into federal financial aid to pay for your tuition, then you've probably heard of the Pell Grant. This free aid from the government is typically only awarded to students who have not yet earned a bachelor's or other professional degree. Graduate students must find other ways to fund their education such as personal funds, scholarships, grants, and loans. However, those pursuing postgraduate teacher's certification may sometimes be eligible for a Federal Pell Grant.

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What is a Federal Pell Grant?

There are two types of financial aid: loans and Pell Grants. Unlike student loans, Federal Pell Grants do not have to be repaid by the student. There are some circumstances that might require you to pay back a portion or all of your Pell Grant like premature withdrawment from school, a change in enrollment status that reduces your Grand eligibility, the award of outside scholarships and grants that reduce your need for a Pell Grant and not meeting the requirements for the TEACH Grant.

How much aid can I get from a Pell Grant?

Pell Grant maximums vary yearly; for the 2017-2018 award year, which runs from July 1, 2017, to June 30, 2018, the maximum Pell Grant award amount was $5,920.

How do I apply for a Pell Grant?

To find out whether your eligible for a Federal Pell Grant and other financial aid, you'll have to submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. You complete this form online and, if you qualify, your Pell Grant will be dispersed to your school.

To continue to fund your education, you will have to submit a FAFSA form every award year.

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Can I get a Pell Grant if I have loans?

If you are qualified to receive a Pell Grant of any amount and already receive student loans, you will not lose your current financial aid. Pell Grants are based off student need. When you apply for a Pell Grant, FAFSA takes into account other financial aid options you're currently utilizing or eligible to receive.

When do I get my Pell Grant?

Pell Grants and other types of financial aid are typically administered by your school in at least two separate payments. Many schools disburse financial aid once per semester, but some schools may attribute all of your Pell Grant to your tuition, pay you directly or combines both methods.

Increased Pell Grants for Children of Fallen Iraq or Afghanistan Soldiers

Children whose parents were in the U.S. Armed Forces and died while fighting in Iraq, or Afghanistan, you may qualify for additional Federal Pell Grants. In order to qualify, you must have been under 24 and enrolled in college or another career school at least part-time at the time of your parent's death.

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If you do qualify for additional Pell Grants, your new award amount will be calculated as if your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) was zero. If your EFC is too high for you to qualify via your parent's death, then you can still apply for a Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant.

Keeping Your Pell Grant

It's important to know that Pell Grant eligibility lasts for 12 semesters. After you have used these 12 semesters, you will no longer be able to receive Pell Grants, which is why it is important to stay actively enrolled in your undergraduate program.

You cannot receive a Pell Grant at a foreign school, and you must be enrolled in an undergraduate program in order to continue to receive federal funding. Once you are awarded your bachelor's degree or your first professional degree, you will no longer be eligible for Pell Grants. People who return to school to earn a second bachelor's do not qualify for Pell Grants even though they are earning an undergraduate degree.

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To maintain your Pell Grant, you will have to submit a new FAFSA form every year with updated tax information. You can discuss changes in your qualifying amount or Pell Grant disbursement with your school's financial aid office.

Pell Grants are an excellent way to decrease debt and finance your degree if you're a first-time student. If you still need help applying or have additional questions, reach out to your school's financial aid office and get connected. There are FAFSA deadlines to meet every award year, so you want to be on top of your financial aid to avoid accidentally lapsing.


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