How to Qualify for a Federal Pell Grant?

A Federal Pell Grant is a grant given to eligible students who demonstrate significant need for college financial aid. The Pell Grant has more strict eligibility requirements and is more competitive than other federal aid programs, because the money awarded to a student does not have to be repaid. Read below for tips on how to qualify for a Federal Pell Grant.

Be Ready and Responsible

In order to qualify for a Federal Pell Grant, you must prove that you:

  • are a United States Citizen or eligible noncitizen
  • have a high school diploma, GED, or show that you will benefit from the program
  • are not in danger of imprisonment
  • are not in default on a federal loan
  • do not owe repayment of a federal grant
  • have never been convicted for drug possession or sale while receiving federal funding
  • will only use Pell Grant funds toward education-related expenses

Fill Out a FAFSA

Like most other federal student loans, the government determines an applicant's eligibility with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA application determines how much money you are eligible to receive for higher education expenses. You can find a FAFSA application at secondary schools, most colleges, public libraries, and government agencies. You can also download a FAFSA online.

Demonstrate Financial Need

The FAFSA application determines financial need by calculating your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). A student's EFC is based on the following:

  • total family (student and parent) income
  • family assets
  • household size
  • the cost of the institution
  • whether the student will be full- or part-time status
  • how many years the student will attend the institution

The majority of Pell Grant recipients have an EFC below $30,000. In some cases, however, students with family incomes up to $60,000 may be considered.

Choose Your School Wisely

In order to qualify for a Pell Grant, you must attend a college or university that participates in the program. Currently, more than 5,000 post-secondary institutions accept Pell Grant funding in the United States. Students may not, however, receive Pell Grant funds if attending two schools at the same time.

Study Hard

In order to initially qualify for a Pell Grant (and remain eligible for the Pell Grant once you're in school), you must maintain a high Grade Point Average (generally a 3.0 cumulative GPA). You will also need to attempt a certain number of credit hours, depending on your enrollment status.

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