federal pell grant

Posted : October 21, 2014
Last Updated : October 21, 2014

federal pell grant

Federal Pell Grants are need-based grants awarded through participating institutions to low-income undergraduate and certain post-baccalaureate students. Unlike student loans, Federal Pell Grants do not have to be repaid.

Application Process
To apply for a Federal Pell Grant (and all federal, state, and some institutional financial aid programs), you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon as possible after January 1st of the year for which you are requesting aid. After filing the FAFSA, you will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) that will notify you if you are eligible for a Federal Pell Grant.

Eligibility Requirements
To determine Federal Pell Grant eligibility, the U.S. Department of Education uses a standard formula to evaluate the information reported on the FAFSA. This formula produces a number called the Expected Family Contribution (EFC), which determines if you are eligible for the grant. Federal Pell Grants are only awarded to students who demonstrate significant financial need.

In addition to having substantial financial need, you must also meet certain requirements to be eligible for a Federal Pell Grant. To qualify, you must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or an eligible non-citizen.
  • Have a valid Social Security number.
  • Have a high school diploma or GED.
  • Be registered with the Selective Service if you are a male aged 18-25.
  • Be attending a participating postsecondary institution.
  • Be pursuing your first undergraduate degree or eligible graduate degree.
  • Be making satisfactory academic progress in a degree-oriented program as defined by the school you are attending.

You may not be eligible for a Federal Pell Grant if you have:

  • Been incarcerated at any point in the past.
  • A drug-related offense on your record.
  • Defaulted on any sort of federal aid in the past.
  • An outstanding Pell overpayment on your record.

Amount Awarded
Upon the establishment of your eligibility for the Pell Grant, your school will review your FAFSA and other relevant material to determine the actual amount you are able to receive from their available Pell Grant funding reserve. The amount of award you receive will depend on:

  • Your financial need.
  • Your cost of attendance.
  • Your status as a full-time or part-time student.
  • Your plans to attend school for a full academic year or less.

Federal Pell Grant amounts can change yearly. For the maximum award amount for the current award year, visit studentaid.ed.gov.

Lifetime Eligibility Used
The amount of Federal Pell Grant funds you may receive over your lifetime is limited by federal law. This is known as Federal Pell Grant Lifetime Eligibility Used or LEU. You can receive the Federal Pell Grant for no more than 12 semesters or the equivalent (roughly six years). You will be notified if you are getting close to your limit. You can also log on to the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) using your Federal Student Aid PIN number and view your LEU. For more information and to understand how your LEU is calculated, visit studentaid.ed.gov.

For more information regarding the Federal Pell Grant, please contact a financial aid advisor at your school.


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federal pell grant

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