What is a Federal Pell Grant?
Federal Pell Grants are awarded to students on the basis of
financial need and do not have to be repaid. These grants are
considered the foundation of federal financial aid, to which aid
from other federal and non-federal sources might be added.
Generally, Pell Grants are only awarded to undergraduate
students who have not yet earned a bachelor's or graduate degree.
(In some cases, however, a student enrolled in a post-baccalaureate
teacher certification program might receive a Pell Grant.)
How do I qualify?
The U.S. Department of Education uses a standard formula to
evaluate the financial information you provide when you apply. You
apply with the
Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
The formula produces an Expected Family Contribution (EFC)
number that is based on your family's financial situation -- your
Student Aid Report (SAR) contains this number.
This number will determine if you're eligible for a Pell Grant
and how much you can receive.
How much money can I get?
Pell Grant amounts depend on program funding and can change
every year. The amount of other student aid you might qualify for
does not affect your Pell Grant amount. You may not receive Pell
Grant funds from more than one college at a time. The maximum Pell
Grant for the 2017-2018 award year is $5,920. The amount of your
Pell Grant award will depend on the following:
- your financial need
- your cost of attending school
- your student status (full-time or part-time)
- your program's length of study (a full academic year or
The maximum award amount may be given for any Pell
Grant eligible student whose parent or guardian died as a result of
military service in Iraq or Afghanistan after Sept.11, 2001. You
must have been less than 24 years old and enrolled
at least part-time in college or career school at the time of your
parent's or guardian's death. Review whether you may also qualify
for an Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant here.
Important notes: You may not receive Federal
Pell Grants from more than one school at a time, nor are you
eligible if you are incarcerated in a federal or state penal
The amount of funding you can receive is no more than 6 years of Pell Grant funding or the
equivalent over your lifetime.You will receive a notice when
you are getting close to your limit.
If I am eligible, how will I get the Pell Grant money?
Your school may credit the Pell Grant funds to your school
account, pay you directly (usually by check) or combine these
methods. The school must tell you in writing how and when you'll be
paid, and how much your award will be.
Schools must pay you at least once per term (semester, trimester
or quarter). Schools that do not use formally defined, traditional
academic terms must pay you at least twice per academic year.
Can I receive a Federal Pell Grant if I am enrolled less than
Yes, if you are otherwise eligible. You won't receive as much as
if you were enrolled full time, but your school must disburse your
Pell Grant funds in accordance with your enrollment status.
How can I get more information?
For more information on Student Financial Assistance Programs,
contact the Federal Student Aid Information
Phone: 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243)
Spanish speakers are available (se habla español).