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Pell Grant Eligibility: Do You Qualify?
Pell Grant eligibility specifically depends on a student’s demonstrated financial need. This makes them a very valuable source of financial aid for students who qualify for need-based aid. Keep on reading to learn everything you need to know about Pell Grants!
What is a Pell Grant?
Pell Grants are financial aid provided by the federal government and eligibility depends on a students’ demonstrated financial need. The Pell Grant originated through the Higher Education Act of 1965 and was part of a broader aim to improve higher education opportunities for lower and middle-income students.
We will be covering the following questions in this Pell Grant guide:
- How do I apply for a Pell Grant?
- When is the deadline for applying for a Pell Grant?
- Do I qualify for a Pell Grant?
- What’s the maximum amount of money I could get through a Pell Grant?
- Do students need to pay a Pell Grant back?
- What is the Pell Grant lifetime limit?
How do I apply for a Pell Grant?
To apply for Pell Grants, as well as other need-based financial aid, students need to submit a Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA). In order to qualify for the Pell Grant for subsequent years, students will need to resubmit the FAFSA.
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When is the deadline for applying for a Pell Grant?
There isn’t necessarily a deadline for Pell, however, you should complete the FAFSA as soon as you possibly can. FAFSA is used as an application for many other financial aid programs that may have deadlines or limited funds.
Each college will also have a FAFSA deadline that you’ll want to meet to ensure your financial aid is available to pay for the upcoming semester.
Do I qualify for a Pell Grant?
Pell Grant eligibility is determined by a variety of factors including:
- Students must demonstrate financial need through the FAFSA
- Students must be a United States citizen or eligible non-citizen (which includes refugees and asylum seekers)
- Students also must be enrolled in college as an undergraduate student as a full time or half time student.
As mentioned earlier, students must re-submit the FAFSA each year to maintain their eligibility. Students must also meet certain academic requirements at their college or university.
What’s the maximum amount of money I could get through a Pell Grant?
The maximum Federal Pell Grant award is $7,395 for the 2023–24 award year, from July 1, 2023, to June 30, 2024.
You will need to check back every year to see how much you will qualify for. For example, legislation from the Biden administration pushed up the amount you can receive by over $400 between the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 school years.
Also see: How to read a financial aid award letter
Do students need to pay a Pell Grant back?
Nope! Like other need-based grants, Pell Grants do not need to be paid back. This makes them a valuable part of your financial aid package! So if you graduate or have to take a leave from school, you will not be responsible for paying back a dime of your grant.
What is the Pell Grant lifetime limit?
Students are eligible to use the grants for up to 12 academic semesters. This means that students can receive the Pell Grant for about six years. At the 2022-2023 academic year maximum rate, that would put your lifetime Pell Grant amount at $44,370.
As Pell Grants are awarded on a half year basis, if you are only in school for a semester, that will only count as a single semester or term.
Additionally, once you have received your undergraduate degree or your first professional degree you are no longer eligible to receive a Pell Grant.
Bottom line for students:
Pell Grants are simply another great reason to fill out the FAFSA! For students with demonstrated financial need, this is one of the most important foundations for your overall financial aid package.
Since this grant money does not need to be repaid and can be renewed for up to twelve college semesters. Over four years of college, these grants could be worth nearly $25,000! This is no small chunk of change and can be a meaningful way to keep your debt down!
Don’t forget scholarships!
Though Pell Grants are a great way to fund your college education, they typically only make a dent in the cost of school. That’s why it’s important to look to many sources for funding. Besides grants, scholarships are always the best source to look to since you won’t have to pay them back. Check out our scholarships for high school seniors, our scholarship search database, and our writing and essay scholarships to get a start! You can also browse scholarships by state and look for some easy scholarships to apply to.