If you’ve always dreamed of going to college but fear that your financial situation will prevent you from realizing that dream, don’t give up hope! The Pell Grant may be able to provide you with the funding that you need to make your dream of earning a post-secondary degree a reality.

What is a Pell Grant?

The Pell Grant is a federally funded grant that provides financial assistance to aspiring college graduates. The funds that those who are awarded the Pell Grant receive are used to help cover (at least part of) the cost of post-secondary education. It serves as the largest provider of grant funding for college in the United States. Millions of students are awarded the Pell Grant each year and receive tens of billions of dollars in financial assistance.

Eligibility Requirements

The Pell Grant is issued to prospective college students that demonstrate a need for financial assistance. To determine if you do require financial assistance, the US Department of Education will assess your Expected Family Income Contribution (EFC) – the amount of money your family would be able to contribute toward your college education – and compare it to the anticipated costs that are associated with attending college, including your tuition, housing, food, supplies, books, and so on.  

In addition, you will also have to meet the following requirements in order to be eligible for the Pell Grant:

  • Be either an undergraduate student who is working toward your four-year degree or post-baccalaureate teaching certification
  • You must be enrolled or accepted as a student in a post-secondary degree or certification program
  • Either hold a high school diploma, a GED, or have successfully finished your high school education via a home-school setting that has been approved by the Department of Education
  • Either be a citizen of the United States or a non-citizen that is eligible to apply for the grant

Amount Awarded by the Pell Grant

The amount of funding that the Pell Grant awards each year does change; for example, during the 2016 – 2017 academic year the annual amount was $5,815, and in the 2017 – 2018 academic year, the annual amount was $5,920. The amount of funding that you will receive from the Pell Grant will be based on your specific financial need, as well as other factors; whether you are a full- or part-time student, for example.  Additionally, you can only use this grant for a total of 12 semesters; so, if it takes you longer than 12 semesters to complete your undergraduate degree, you will no longer be able to use the Pell Grant, even if there is an academic need and you meet the other above-mentioned criteria. And lastly, the Pell Grant will only award funding for one academic institution at a time.

Applying for the Pell Grant

To apply for the Pell Grant, you will need to complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA). Filing is quick and easy and can be done right online. Speak your school’s financial aid office to find out when to file your FASFA so that you can ensure you get in before the deadline.