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Pell Grants

Pell Grants are a great source of funds for eligible undergraduate students. They are financial awards given out by colleges, universities and career schools using funds provided by the Department of Education. These student grants are different from loans because they never have to be repaid. Another key benefit of Pell Grants: the amount of your award doesn't change if you are getting financial assistance from other sources.

Pell Grants are not awarded competitively: everyone who qualifies recieves an award as long as there is money in the budget. There are very specific criteria that determine who is eligible. There are also limits regarding how long you can receive awards. Read on to discover whether you are eligible for a Pell Grant and details about how to apply (it's free!).

Can I Get A Pell Grant?

If you are in fact eligible for a Pell Grant and apply correctly, you will get a Pell Grant! Let's take a look at who qualifies, how much your award might be, and how to apply:

Pell Grant Eligibility

Pell Grants are primarily given out in response to financial need, so your family income is the most important factor. Other basic requirements include:

  1. you must be a U.S. citizen or have a green card
  2. with few exceptions, you have to have a social security number
  3. if you're a guy between 18 and 25 you must be registered with the Selective Service;
  4. you have to be attending or accepted at a qualifying school
  5. you must be attending school at least half-time
  6. you must have a high school diploma, GED, or accepted homeschooling credential.

Additionally, criminal convictions or jail time related to drug or sexual offenses may make you ineligible. Once you receive an award you have to keep on track toward your degree, not be in default on any government student loans, and not be convicted for any drug offenses.

How Much Money Will My Pell Grant Provide?

Currently the maximum award amount in an academic year is $5550. The actual amount of your award will depend on several things. Your financial need, based on your family income, is most important. Beyond that, your award will depend on

  1. how much your school costs
  2. whether you are attending full or part time
  3. whether you are attending for a full year or for part of the year.

Special Situations

You may receive a bigger Pell Grant award if your parent or guardian died in Iraq or Afghanistan while in the military. The death would have to have occurred after 9/11 and you would have to have been an undergraduate student under 24 years old at the time.

In addition, if you don't qualify for a Pell Grant because you or your family has too much income, there may still be an opportunity for an award. If you meet the qualifications noted above regarding losing a parent or guardian in the military in Iraq or Aghanistan after 9/11, and you meet the other Pell Grant eligibility requirements, you might receive an Iraq and Afghanistan Service Award. This award would have the same maximum amount as a Pell Grant but can't be more than your school costs.

If I get a Pell Grant, can I still get a scholarship?

Absolutely! You can and should go after both! Check our Grants And Scholarships to understand the difference and how to get money for school from both sources.

How Do I Apply For A Pell Grant?

This is the best part --- if you have filled out your FAFSA form, you have already applied! If you haven't yet filled yours out, do so as early as possible. Funds are granted on a first come, first served basis so it's important to get it done.

Note that it is free to apply, and you can do so online. Check out our FAFSA article to get more details.