What Is a Pell Grant?

FAFSA Application

Federal Program Offers a Source of Financing for Students

A Pell Grant is money the government provides for students who need to pay for college. Grants, unlike loans, do not have to be repaid. Eligible students receive a specified amount each year under this program. In the academic year of 2020-21, around 30 percent of all students that enrolled in undergraduate programs in the United States had been granted a Pell Grant award.

Am I eligible for a Pell Grant?

You’re eligible for a Pell Grant if you are eligible for federal financial aid, complete the FAFSA®, and your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) falls below a certain amount. The U.S. Department of Education determines your EFC by taking the information you provide on the FAFSA and plugging it into a standard formula.

To be eligible for a Pell Grant, you must also:

  • Be an undergraduate student who has not earned a bachelor's degree (with some exceptions for students in post-baccalaureate teaching programs).
  • Be enrolled or accepted for enrollment as a regular student in an eligible degree or certificate program.
  • Have earned a high school diploma or a GED, or have completed a high school education in an approved home-school setting.
  • Be a U.S. citizen or an eligible noncitizen.

How much does a Pell Grant cover?

The maximum Pell Grant for the 2022-23 award year is $6,895. The amount of the grant depends on your EFC and other factors, including the amount of time you attend college (whether a full academic year or less, and whether you attend full-time or part-time) and your cost of attendance. You cannot receive Pell Grant funds from more than one college at a time, and you can receive Pell Grants for up to 12 semesters, or approximately six years.

How will I get my Pell Grant?

A college may credit Pell Grant funds to your account, pay you directly, or use a combination of these two methods. The college must notify you, in writing, the amount of the Pell Grant, and how and when payments are made. Colleges must pay at least once per term, whether that is a semester, trimester, or quarter. Colleges that don't use formally defined traditional terms must pay you at least twice per academic year.

How do I apply for a Pell Grant?

You apply for Pell Grants, as well as all federal, state, and some institutional financial aid programs, by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) online. You can request a paper FAFSA from the Federal Student Aid Information Center (FSAIC) at 1-800-433-3243. The FAFSA becomes available on October 1 each year, and we recommend submitting it as soon as you can. Check with your chosen college to find out its preferred filing deadline for the FAFSA. To learn more about the Pell Grant, go to studentaid.gov.