Pell Grants: Federal financial aid for higher education students.

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Pell Grants
Pell Grants

Pell Grants:- Pell Grants are federal financial aid programs designed to assist eligible undergraduate students in covering their educational expenses, including tuition, fees, and related costs. The amount of aid awarded depends on factors such as financial need, enrollment status, and the cost of attending the chosen institution. Pell Grants do not need to be repaid, making them a valuable resource for students pursuing higher education. Eligibility is determined based on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Am I eligible for Pell Grants? 2024

Federal Pell Grants usually are awarded only to undergraduate students who display exceptional financial need and have not earned a bachelor’s, graduate, or professional degree. (In some cases, however, a student enrolled in a postbaccalaureate teacher certification program might receive a Federal Pell Grant.) You may be eligible to receive a Federal Pell Grant if you are confined or incarcerated and enrolled in an approved Prison Education Program, or are subject to an involuntary civil commitment upon completion of a period of incarceration for a forcible or nonforcible sexual offense.

A Federal Pell Grant, unlike a loan, does not have to be repaid, except under certain circumstances. Find out why you might have to repay all or part of a federal grant.You may not receive Federal Pell Grant funds from more than one school at a time.

Alert: Don’t accept unexpected offers of financial aid or help (such as a “pandemic grant” or “Biden loan forgiveness”) without checking with your school to see if the offer is legit. Learn how to avoid scams.

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Your eligibility for federal student aid can be affected by incarceration.

Drug convictions no longer affect federal student aid eligibility. As of July 1, 2023, if you are subject to an involuntary civil commitment for a sexual offense, you may qualify for a Federal Pell Grant.

Eligibility for Federal Student Aid

You have limited eligibility for federal student aid.

As of July 1, 2023, if you’re confined or incarcerated in a federal or state facility, the following applies to you:

  • You may be eligible for a Federal Pell Grant if you are enrolled in an approved prison education program.
  • You can get Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) and Federal Work-Study (FWS) if you qualify.
  • You can’t get federal student loans.

As of July 1, 2023, if you’re in a facility other than a federal or state facility, the following applies to you:

  • You may be eligible for a Federal Pell Grant if you’re enrolled in an approved prison education program.
  • You can get FSEOG and FWS if you qualify.
  • You can’t get federal student loans.

Note: Check with your correctional facility’s education director to find out if your facility will partner with a school to offer a qualifying program in 2023.

Note: While you may be eligible for FWS, you probably won’t get it due to the logistical difficulties of performing an FWS job while incarcerated.

Drug convictions no longer affect federal student aid eligibility. As of July 1, 2023, if you are subject to an involuntary civil commitment for a sexual offense, you may qualify for a Federal Pell Grant.

Applying for Federal Student Aid

To apply for federal student aid, as well as most state and institutional aid, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form online at fafsa.gov or on paper. Find the 2023–24 FAFSA PDF at You must print out and mail the FAFSA PDF for processing.

Even if you are ineligible for federal student aid, you should complete the FAFSA form, because most schools and states use FAFSA information to award nonfederal aid, and you might be able to get some of those funds. If you have federal student loans, make sure your federal student loans don’t become delinquent or go into default while you’re confined in an adult correctional or juvenile justice facility. If your federal student loans are in default, explore your options for getting out of default, including the temporary Fresh Start program.

Students Exiting Incarceration

Once you’re released, the eligibility limitations related to your incarceration will be removed. In fact, you may apply for aid before you’re released so your aid is processed in time for you to start school. Drug convictions no longer affect federal student aid eligibility. As of July 1, 2023, if you are subject to an involuntary civil commitment for a sexual offense, you may qualify for a Federal Pell Grant.

Applying for Federal Student Aid

To apply for federal student aid, as well as most state and institutional aid, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form online at fafsa.gov or on paper. If you’re currently confined or incarcerated and you’re applying for federal student aid for when you will no longer be confined or incarcerated, find the 2023–24 FAFSA PDF at StudentAid.gov/resources. If you will be incarcerated for any part of the 2023–24 award year, find the FAFSA PDF at You must print out and mail the FAFSA PDF for processing.

If you apply for federal student aid before you’re released, use the mailing address of the facility where you’re confined. After your release, you must update your mailing address at fafsa.gov or by calling the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-433-3243. Even if you are ineligible for federal student aid, you should complete the FAFSA form, because most schools and states use FAFSA information to award nonfederal aid, and you might be able to get some of those funds.

Eligibility for Federal Student Aid

If you are on probation or parole or living in a halfway house, you may be eligible for federal student aid. Drug convictions no longer affect federal student aid eligibility. As of July 1, 2023, if you are subject to an involuntary civil commitment for a sexual offense, you may qualify for a Federal Pell Grant.

Applying for Federal Student Aid

To apply for federal student aid, as well as most state and institutional aid, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form online at fafsa.gov or on paper. Find the 2023–24 FAFSA PDF at StudentAid.gov/resources. You must print out and mail the FAFSA PDF for processing. If you apply for federal student aid before you’re released, use the mailing address of the facility where you’re confined. After your release, you must update your mailing address at fafsa.gov or by contacting the Federal Student Aid Information Center.

Even if you are ineligible for federal student aid, you should complete the FAFSA form, because most schools and states use FAFSA information to award nonfederal aid, and you might be able to get some of those funds.

How do I apply Pell Grants?

You should start by submitting a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form. Schools use the information on the FAFSA® form to determine your eligibility for a Pell Grant, and if so, how much you’re eligible to receive. You will have to fill out the FAFSA form every year you’re in school in order to stay eligible for federal student aid, including Pell Grant awards.

It’s important to understand the cost of attendance at your school of choice so that you can understand how much aid you might need. The cost of attendance of a school program is the annual cost advertised by the school, before financial aid is applied. Tuition and fees, room and board (housing and meals), and other additional education-related expenses (both direct and indirect) are included and may vary based on personal choices. Once you know the cost of attendance, you can better plan how to cover your educational expenses.

How much money can I get?

Amounts can change yearly. The maximum Federal Pell Grant award is $7,395 for the 2023–24 award year (July 1, 2023, to June 30, 2024).

The amount you get, though, will depend on

  • your Expected Family Contribution,
  • the cost of attendance (determined by your school for your specific program),
  • your status as a full-time or part-time student, and
  • your plans to attend school for a full academic year or less.

To estimate how much you could qualify for, you’ll need the cost of attendance for your school and your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Once you have those, you can check the 2023–24 Federal Pell Grant payment schedule for an estimated award amount. In certain situations, an eligible student can receive up to 150 percent of his or her scheduled Pell Grant award for an award year.

For example, if you are eligible for a $2,000 Pell Grant for the award year and are enrolled full-time for both the fall term and spring term, you’ll likely receive $1,000 in the fall and $1,000 in the spring. However, under certain circumstances, you may be eligible to receive up to an additional $1,000 for attendance in an additional term within that award year (resulting in your receiving 150% of your original award). You might hear this situation being referred to as “year-round Pell.” For details, contact your school’s financial aid office.

Please note that you can receive the Federal Pell Grant for no more than 12 terms full-time terms or the equivalent (roughly six years). You’ll receive a notice if you’re getting close to your limit. If you have any questions, contact your financial aid office. If you’re eligible for a Federal Pell Grant, you’ll receive the full amount you qualify for—each school participating in the program receives enough funds each year from the U.S. Department of Education to pay the Federal Pell Grant amounts for all its eligible students. The amount of any other student aid for which you might qualify does not affect the amount of your Federal Pell Grant.

How much am I eligible for if my parent died in Iraq, Afghanistan, or in the line of duty?

It depends. If your parent or guardian was

  • a member of the U.S. armed forces and died as a result of military service performed in Iraq or Afghanistan after the events of 9/11 or
  • a public safety officer and died as a result of active service in the line of duty, then

you may be eligible for additional Federal Pell Grant funds if, at the time of your parent’s or guardian’s death, you were

  • less than 24 years of age or
  • enrolled in college or career school at least part-time.

If you meet these requirements and are eligible to receive a Federal Pell Grant, your eligibility will be recalculated as if your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) were zero. Payments are adjusted if you are enrolled less than full-time.

Students whose parent or guardian was a member of the U.S. armed forces and died as a result of military service performed in Iraq or Afghanistan after the events of 9/11: If you meet the requirements above but aren’t eligible to receive a Federal Pell Grant due to your EFC being too high, you might be able to get an Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant.

How will I get paid Pell Grants? 2024

Your school can apply Federal Pell Grant funds to your school costs, pay you directly, or combine these methods. Learn more about how (and when) you’ll be paid.

When You’ll Receive Your Financial Aid

The type of aid you accepted affects when you’ll get your aid.

Grants and Student Loans

Generally, your school will give you your grant or loan money in at least two payments called disbursements. In most cases, your school must give you your grant or loan money at least once per term (semester, trimester, or quarter). Schools that don’t use traditional terms such as semesters or quarters usually must give you your grant or loan money at least twice—for instance, at the beginning and midpoint of your academic year or program.

Note: If you’re a parent taking out a Direct PLUS Loan to help pay for your child’s education expenses, your loan funds will be disbursed according to the same type of schedule.

The following may apply if you haven’t taken out a federal student loan before:

  • If you’re a first-year undergraduate student and a first-time borrower, you may have to wait 30 days after the first day of your enrollment period (semester, trimester, etc.) before your school is allowed to give you your loan money. Check with your school to see whether this rule applies.
  • If you’re a first-time borrower of a Direct Subsidized Loan or a Direct Unsubsidized Loan, you must complete entrance counseling before your school can give you your loan money.
  • If you are a graduate or professional student taking out a Direct PLUS Loan for the first time, you must complete entrance counseling before you receive your first loan disbursement. Note: Counseling isn’t required if you’re a parent taking out a Direct PLUS Loan to help pay for your child’s education.

Work-Study

If you’re going to have a work-study job, you’ll be paid at least once a month.

If you don’t receive the type or amount of financial aid you expected, contact your school. The financial aid office can explain how your aid was determined.

How You’ll Receive Your Financial Aid

How you’ll get your aid depends on the type of aid you accepted.

Grants and Student Loans

Typically, the school first applies your grant or loan money toward your tuition, fees, and (if you live on campus) room and board. Any money left over is paid to you directly for other education expenses.

If you get your loan money, but then you realize that you don’t need the money after all, you may cancel all or part of your loan within 120 days of receiving it and no interest or fees will be charged.

Work-Study

Your school must pay you directly unless you request that the school

  • send your payments directly to your bank account or
  • use the money to pay for education-related charges (e.g., tuition, fees, room and board) on your student account.

Direct PLUS Loans for Parents

In most cases, your child’s school will give you your loan money by crediting it to your child’s school account to pay tuition, fees, room, board, and other authorized charges. If there is money left over, the school will pay it to you. In some cases, with your permission, the school may give the leftover money to your child.

If you take out a loan as a student or parent, your school (or your child’s school) will notify you in writing each time they give you any part of your loan money. At the same time, they’ll provide information about how to cancel all or part of your loan if you find you no longer need the full amount. You will also receive a notice from your loan servicer confirming that you received the loan money.

Paying for Textbooks and Other Course Materials If You Haven’t Received Your Financial Aid

Schools that participate in federal student aid programs must provide a way for you to obtain your books and supplies by the seventh day of the term if

  • you are eligible for disbursement (i.e., the payment of your financial aid) 10 days before the term begins and
  • you will have a credit balance (i.e., money left over) after your financial aid is applied to your tuition, fees, and other school charges as applicable.

Your school can tell you if the above criteria apply to you.

How Your School Gets Your Financial Aid Funds to You for Course Materials

You should ask your financial aid office about this because it varies from school to school. For example, if the school offers a bookstore voucher or other means for students to receive their books and supplies through the school or its bookstore, you could obtain your materials that way.

When your school gives you financial aid, sometimes money is left over after your aid is applied to your tuition, fees, and other school charges. This remaining amount is called a credit balance. If you have a credit balance, your school must pay this amount to you directly within 14 days unless you authorize the school to keep the money to pay for future institutional charges.

The amount the school is required to provide is either the amount of your credit balance or the amount needed for books and supplies (as determined by your school), whichever is less. Your school can tell you if this applies to you.

Even if the school’s preferred arrangement is to provide vouchers or other means for you to get your course materials through the school or its bookstore, the school must provide you the opportunity to opt out, receive a check from the school, and obtain the books and supplies on your own unless one of the following exceptions applies:

  • The school can demonstrate a compelling health and safety reason for obtaining the materials through the institution or its supplier.
  • The school can demonstrate that the materials are not currently available elsewhere or accessible to students via other means.

Saving Money on Textbooks and Course Materials

Depending on what materials are available at your school and for your courses, you may have several lower-cost options to obtain your books:

  • If your course uses a hard-copy textbook, consider buying a used copy or renting your textbook from a bookstore or online.
  • If you purchase your textbook, consider reselling that textbook, if allowed, when you are done with the course.
  • Even with new textbooks, you may be able to save money by shopping around.
  • Some schools use open-access texts and online content to offer students further savings over hard-copy textbooks. Open-access texts are available for free.
  • If your course uses paid online content, your school may have negotiated a deal with the publisher that will allow you online access at a fraction of the cost you would pay for a physical book. The paid online content may also come with study tools and other content in addition to the textbook.

Your options for course material formats will vary by school, instructor, and course, so learning what your options are and knowing about any cost-reduction initiatives your school may have can result in significant savings.

A Note About ISBNs

Your school must publish the International Standard Book Number (ISBN) for each course text in the online course schedule entry if the ISBN is available. The ISBN identifies the specific edition of the book that’s required for your class and helps you be sure you’re obtaining the right book when you search for it. If an ISBN is unavailable, the school should provide the author, title, publisher, and copyright date.

Continue To Meet Basic Eligibility Criteria

Once you’ve filled out your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form and received your grant, loan, or work-study funds to help you pay for college or career school, make sure you stay eligible throughout the academic year—and in subsequent years.

Continue To Meet Basic Eligibility Criteria

Remember, the basic eligibility criteria that allow you to get federal student aid continue to apply throughout the time you’re receiving aid—not just when you first fill out the FAFSA form and receive aid.

Make Satisfactory Academic Progress

You need to make satisfactory academic progress in order to continue receiving federal student aid. In other words, you have to make good enough grades, and complete enough classes (credits, hours, etc.), to keep moving toward successfully completing your degree or certificate in a time period that’s acceptable to your school.

Each school has a satisfactory academic progress policy for federal student aid purposes; to see your school’s, you can check your school’s website or ask someone at the financial aid office. Your school’s policy will tell you

  • what grade-point average (or equivalent standard) you need to maintain;
  • how quickly you need to be moving toward graduation (for instance, how many credits you should have successfully completed by the end of each year);
  • how an incomplete class, withdrawal, repeated class, change of major, or transfer of credits from another school affects your satisfactory academic progress;
  • how often your school will evaluate your progress;
  • what will happen if you fail to make satisfactory academic progress when your school evaluates you;
  • whether you are allowed to appeal your school’s decision that you haven’t made satisfactory academic progress (reasons for appeal usually include the death of a member of your family, your illness or injury, or other special circumstances); and
  • how you can regain eligibility for federal student aid.

Fill Out the FAFSA® Form Each Year

When you fill out the FAFSA form, you are applying for aid for a specific year. In order to receive aid the next year, you’ll need to submit that next year’s FAFSA form. Luckily, the FAFSA form makes it easy for you by remembering certain information you reported the year before and placing it in your new FAFSA form.

Certainly, here are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) about Pell Grants:

Q 1. What is a Pell Grant?

A Pell Grant is a federal grant program that provides financial assistance to eligible undergraduate students to help cover the costs of their education. It is one of the largest federal student aid programs in the United States.

Q 2. How do I apply for a Pell Grant?

To apply for a Pell Grant, you need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA collects information about your family’s income and financial situation to determine your eligibility for various types of financial aid, including Pell Grants.

Q 3. Who is eligible for a Pell Grant?

Eligibility for Pell Grants is primarily based on financial need, as determined by the information provided in your FAFSA. Other factors that affect eligibility include your enrollment status and the cost of attending your chosen college or university.

Q 4. Is there an age limit for receiving a Pell Grant?

There is no specific age limit for Pell Grant eligibility. As long as you meet the financial need and other requirements, you can be of any age to receive a Pell Grant.

Q 5. How much money can I receive from a Pell Grant?

The amount of Pell Grant funding you receive depends on various factors, including your Expected Family Contribution (EFC), the cost of attendance at your school, and whether you attend full-time or part-time. The maximum Pell Grant amount may change each year, as it is set by the U.S. Department of Education.

Q 6. Do I have to repay Pell Grants?

No, Pell Grants are considered gift aid, which means you do not have to repay them. They are a form of financial assistance to help with your educational expenses, and you won’t incur any debt by receiving them.

Q 7. Can I receive a Pell Grant for graduate or professional programs?

Pell Grants are generally reserved for undergraduate studies. They are not available for graduate or professional degree programs. However, there are other federal and private financial aid options for graduate and professional students.

Q 8. How often do I need to apply for a Pell Grant?

You need to complete the FAFSA each academic year to be considered for Pell Grants and other federal financial aid. The FAFSA is typically available for submission each year starting on October 1st.

Q 9. Can international students receive Pell Grants?

No, Pell Grants are specifically for U.S. citizens, eligible non-citizens, and certain eligible refugees or asylum-seekers. International students studying in the United States are generally not eligible for Pell Grants.

Q 10 . What can I use Pell Grant funds for?

Pell Grant funds can be used to cover various education-related expenses, including tuition, fees, room and board, textbooks, and other educational costs necessary for your academic pursuits.

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