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A federal Pell grant is money that the government provides for students who need it to pay for college. The Pell grant was first established by Congress in 1972 with the same Basic Educational Opportunity Grants. In 1980 it was renamed after Rhode Island Senator, Claiborne Pell. More than 10 million students have received Pell grants for a total award amount of over 30 billion dollars. There are more than 5,400 postsecondary institutions that participate in the federal Pell grant program. They pay the students at least once per term by either deducting the Pell grant amount from their money owed or by issuing a check to the student.

Here are some quick facts about the Pell grant:

  • Pell grants are not loans and do not need to be repaid.
  • Pell grants are typically only awarded to undergraduate college students.
  • Some post-graduate students in programs for teacher certification or licensure may be eligible for a Pell grant.
  • Pell grants are given to those exhibiting financial need.
  • Pell grants are issued for the entire academic year.
  • The maximum Pell grant for the 2018-2019 school year is $6,095 Students attending school year-round — in fall, spring and summer — can receive 150% of the maximum award, or $9,142.”
  • The minimum Pell grant amount is $573 per academic year.

How to Apply for a Federal Pell Grant

There is no specific application for a federal Pell grant. Every student is considered for a Pell grant when they complete the FAFSA application, Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Any student who is awarded a Pell grant will need to reapply each year through FAFSA to be considered for a Pell grant for the next academic year. The amount awarded may vary year-to-year depending on a number of factors such as financial need, cost of tuition, and part time or full time enrollment.


  • Remain in satisfactory academic standing with your school
  • Continue to exhibit financial need.
  • Maintain citizenship status.
  • Avoid arrests or any legal problems.
  • Remain in good standing with any federal loans.

A federal Pell grant is a great way to receive funds toward your college education that do not need to be repaid. This is one of the reasons why it is important for students to fill out their FAFSA each year. Students should take advantage of any and all scholarships and grants that will help them to pay for college to lessen the burden of student loans.