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Pell Grants are a type of federal financial aid you don’t have to repay. They’re usually reserved for undergraduate students who can demonstrate significant financial need, and who haven’t yet earned any degree.
Students can apply for Pell Grants by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). However, not everyone who applies for the FAFSA will be eligible for a Pell Grant.
Here’s what you should know about Pell Grants:
- How to apply for a Pell Grant
- When to apply for a Pell Grant
- How to retain your Pell Grant eligibility
- How your school calculates your pell grant
- Fill funding gaps with student loans
How to apply for a Pell Grant
When you complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), your school will use the information you provide to determine if you’re eligible for a Pell Grant, and how much you qualify for if you are eligible.
The following factors determine your eligibility for a Pell Grant:
- Financial standing: Pell Grants go to students who show strong financial need. When you complete the FAFSA, the U.S. Department of Education reviews your overall income (which may include your parents’) and assets.
- School’s participation: Your school must be one of the 6,000 institutions that participate in the federal Pell Grant program in order for you to receive any financial aid.
- Citizenship: Only U.S. citizens or eligible non-citizens will qualify for federal aid.
- Legal status: You can’t qualify if you’re subject to any legal action, have a history of arrests, or any convictions related to drug or sexual offenses.
- Academic progress: You must retain certain academic standards to keep Pell Grant eligibility.
- Special circumstances: If you lost a parent in the Iraq or Afghanistan wars, you’re eligible for a Pell Grant. Also, students with intellectual disabilities are eligible for Pell Grants.
In order to be eligible for a Pell Grant, you must be eligible for any type of federal aid.
Learn more: How to apply for FAFSA
When to apply for a Pell Grant
Your deadline for applying for a Pell Grant is the same as the FAFSA deadline. Typically, that’s June 30 for the preceding academic year. Here are recent and upcoming FAFSA deadlines:
|Academic year||FAFSA opens||FAFSA closes|
|2022-2023||Oct. 1, 2021||June 30, 2023|
|2021-2022||Oct. 1, 2020||June 30, 2022|
|Colleges and states also have their own deadlines. To learn college deadlines, check with the financial aid office of any colleges you apply to. For state deadlines, visit StudentAid.gov.|
How to retain your Pell Grant eligibility
To maintain your eligibility for Pell Grants and other federal aid, you’ll need to complete the FAFSA every year you’re in school. You’ll also need to:
- Continue to show financial need in the following school year
- Maintain satisfactory academic standing according to your school
- Maintain your citizenship status
- Avoid arrests or any legal troubles
- Stay in good standing on any federal loans you may have
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How your school calculates your pell grant
A number of factors go into deciding the award amount for Pell Grant recipients. The minimum amount that can be awarded is currently $650. The maximum is $6,895 for the 2022–23 award year (July 1, 2022, through June 30, 2023). Students attending school year-round — in fall, spring, and summer — can receive up to 150% of their scheduled award ($9,518).
Some factors that affect the amount of money you’re awarded include:
- Expected Family Contribution (EFC)
- Cost of attendance for your school or program
- Enrollment status (part-time or full-time)
- Plans to attend classes for a full or partial academic year
To estimate the amount that you could receive, use a Pell Grant calculator. The Federal Student Aid website’s Student Aid Estimator can help you understand how much Pell Grant you might qualify for.
Credible also has some calculators to help you with student loans. Check them out below:
- Student loan interest calculator: See how much a loan would cost you over the life of the loan
- Student loan refinancing calculator: See how much you could save when you refinance student loans with Credible
- Student loan repayment calculator: See how long it will take to pay off the total cost of your student loans
Learn more: EFC: How Your Expected Family Contribution Affects Financial Aid
Maximum Pell Grant amounts
The maximum Pell Grant award amount changes from year to year.
- 2022-2023 academic year: $6,895
- 2021-2022 academic year: $6,495
Fill funding gaps with student loans
At less than $6,000 per year, Pell Grants aren’t likely to cover all your tuition, let alone all your college-related costs.
As part of your financial aid package, your school may include federal student loans. After exhausting your options for scholarships and grants, you should turn to federal student loans first if you find you have to borrow. Federal student loans are generally easy to get, don’t require a credit check or cosigner, have flexible repayment plans, and can give you access to student loan forgiveness.
After exhausting federal loan options, private student loans could be a good way to cover any leftover college costs.
Credible can help you save time shopping around by letting you compare offers from our partner lenders in the table below by filling out just one simple form. Checking your prequalified rates with Credible won’t affect your credit either.
|Lender||Fixed rates from (APR)||Variable rates from (APR)|
|4.50%9 - 14.83%9||5.99%9 - 16.33%9|
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Lowest APRs reflect autopay, loyalty, and interest-only repayment discounts where available | 10Ascent Disclosures | 1Citizens Disclosures | 2,3College Ave Disclosures | 11Custom Choice Disclosures | 6Discover Disclosures | 7EDvestinU Disclosures | 8INvestEd Disclosures | 9Sallie Mae Disclosures
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