Pell Grants Explained
What is a Pell Grant?
A Federal Pell Grant is a grant from the federal government to help cover the costs related to earning an undergraduate degree. Pell Grants are only available to students who have not yet completed a bachelor’s degree. Students enrolled in a post-baccalaureate teaching certificate program may also be eligible to receive a Pell Grant.
Pell Grant Eligibility
You must meet the basic eligibility criteria for federal student aid to be eligible for a Pell Grant. In addition, Pell grants are awarded to undergraduate students who have not yet obtained a bachelor’s degree and qualify for a Pell Grant based on financial need. Financial need is determined by your expected family contribution (EFC), cost of attendance (COA), and student enrollment status (part-time of full-time). You must file the FAFSA in order to be eligible for a Pell Grant.
Pell Grant Application
To apply for a Federal Pell Grant, you must complete the FAFSA. You will be required to complete the FAFSA for every year of your undergraduate studies to be considered for a Pell Grant each year. We recommend completing the FAFSA as close to Oct 1 each year as possible in order to maximize your aid.
Pell Grant Requirements
The first requirement for receiving a Pell Grant is to file the FAFSA. Pell Grants are awarded based on the information provided in the FAFSA. You must file the FAFSA every year you attend college to be eligible for a Pell Grant each year. You must also be an undergraduate student who has not yet obtained a bachelor’s degree or higher.
If you are male and over the age of 18, you will also need to be registered for selective service in order to receive federal financial aid. If you haven’t done so already, the FAFSA will give you an option to register.
Pell Grant Amount
The maximum amount for a Pell Grant for the 2020-2021 academic year is $6,345. This does not mean you will receive the maximum amount. If you qualify, your award will be determined by your financial need. Your financial need will be determined by your expected family contribution (EFC), cost of attendance (COA) and student enrollment status.
Pell Grant Lifetime Limit
In addition to meeting the eligibility criteria for a Pell Grant, you must also still have eligibility left in your Pell Grant lifetime limit. You may only receive a Pell grant for the equivalent of twelve full-time semesters, or approximately six years. Your financial aid office will let you know if you are getting close to your lifetime limit.
Do You Have to Pay Back Pell Grants?
Typically, no. Pell Grants are considered gift aid and do not need to be repaid. There could be situations where you may be required to repay Pell grant. One of the most common reasons, you withdraw from your program and you weren’t enrolled long enough to “earn” the money you received through the Pell Grant program. If you are ever in a situation where you are considering dropping out, you may want to ask your school if there could be any financial consequences. Another reason, you fraudulently receive the funds—committing fraud to receive federal aid can have serious consequences beyond the repayment of the money you received.
Pell Grant Income Limits
Technically there is no specified income limit for Pell Grant eligibility. Pell Grants however, are awarded based on financial need. Financial need is calculated based on your expected family contribution (EFC), cost of attendance (COA), and enrollment status (full-time or part-time). Your school has very specific rules they need to follow to determine your Pell eligibility. If you believe you weren’t awarded a Pell grant in error, you want to set up some time with your financial aid office to discuss your concerns.
Pell Grant Maximum
The maximum award amount for a Pell Grant for the 2020-2021 academic year is $6,345.