One of the best forms of Federal Student Aid (FSA) that a student can obtain is the Pell Grant. The funds from the Pell Grant go toward paying for your cost of attendance (COA), and those funds do not need to be paid back after you use them. Students who demonstrate a financial need are the primary recipients of this grant. Essentially, the Pell Grant provides educational funds to need-based students at no charge.
To be eligible for the Pell Grant, you have to meet certain qualifications. First, you must meet the eligibility requirements for receiving any type of FSA. In order to be eligible the individual must:
- Be a U.S. citizen or an eligible non-citizen
- Have a high school diploma or equivalent
- Be registered with the Selective Service (males only)
- Be enrolled in an eligible program
- Maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) throughout your time in school
- Fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
If you meet all of the above requirements, you are eligible for FSA, and may be eligible for the Pell Grant. The additional requirements to receive the Pell Grant include:
- You are an undergraduate student who has not yet received a bachelor’s degree
- You can demonstrate financial need as indicated by your Expected Family Contribution (EFC)
The Department of Education will use a formula to determine whether your EFC indicates you need additional financial assistance. If your EFC reaches a certain threshold, you will not be eligible for the Pell Grant. If your EFC falls somewhere between $0 and the maximum threshold, the amount of Pell you are eligible for will be higher or lower based on your EFC for the year. Please note that the amounts that correspond with certain EFCs will change periodically.
Since the Pell Grant is a need-based financial aid, it will be the first kind of aid that your school will use to package your financial aid award. If you are eligible, it is a great resource to take advantage of. However, remember that you have an obligation to the hard-working taxpayers to put in maximum effort to obtain a degree. The Pell Grant funds should be used for educational purposes only. The Pell grant is NOT an extra source of income, and should never be treated as such.
By Ryan Laspina
Senior Specialist, Red Flags and External Reviews at APUS