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.
A Federal Pell Grant, unlike a loan, does not have to be repaid. 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
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 2013-2014 award year is
$5,645. The amount of your Pell Grant award will depend on the
- your EFC
- your cost of attending school
- your student status (full-time or part-time)
- your program's length of study (a full academic year or less)
The amount of any other student aid you might qualify for does not affect
your Pell Grant amount.
Students with a parent or guardian who died as a result of military service
in Iraq or Afghanistan after September 11, 2001, will receive the full amount.
These students must be under 24 years old and at least part-time students
at the time of the death. The 2011-2012 application makes special allowance
for students (or parents) who have recently lost their jobs. If they indicate
this on the form, an award may be given to them even if they would not have
qualified based on their 2010 financial information. Beginning with the 2011-12
award year, you may receive only one Pell Grant award during a single award
You must be enrolled at least half-time and in a program that leads to
an associate or bachelor's degree or certificate.
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 half
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 Center:
Phone: 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243)
Spanish speakers are available (se habla espanol).