Understanding Pell Grant Requirements

Among the scholarship options available today, Pell Grants are on everyone’s Most Wanted list. The reason for this is simple – these grants do not have to be paid back. In other words, they are free money for the lucky students that qualify! For students that normally wouldn’t have a chance at college education, this can be a real blessing.

This also makes the entire process of getting a Pell grant rather competitive. In order to better understand how you can qualify, it helps to know the Pell Grant Requirements.

Can Anyone Apply?

Pell grants are not open to everyone – in fact, you need to be from a low-income family in order to be eligible. One of the biggest qualification criteria is called Expected Family Contribution or EFC – this calculates how much the family will be able to spend on their child’s college education.

The lower the EFC factor, the more eligible you are for a high Pell grant amount. EFC is calculated on the sum of money earned by the student and parents combined. If this amount exceeds a certain amount, the student will not be eligible for a Pell grant.

Another factor that makes this grant so popular is that there are no caps on it – most grants allow you to only borrow a limited amount of money over your lifetime. The Pell Grant however allows you to take as much as you need, provided that the money is for the student’s first bachelor degree and they qualify for the grant. There is however a limit of one Pell Grant per student per year.

The Attendance Factor

Attendance also plays a key role in determining who qualifies for a Pell grant. There are two factors to consider here – one is the Cost of Attendance or COA. This refers to the cost of the student’s attendance to the university or college they are applying to. The higher the cost, the more eligible they will be to receive a sizable grant.

The second factor refers to class attendance – that is, whether the student will be attending school on a full time or part time basis. It’s important to note that the Pell grant is one of the few funding opportunities open to students who attend school on a less-than-half-time basis.

However, full time students are eligible for larger sums with the amount decreasing for three-quarter, half-time and less-than-half-time students.

There are currently 5400 schools that are part of the Pell grant program. Those students who qualify can be covered for 18 semesters – this money can go towards any aspect of student life, such as room and board or books. In order to apply for this grant, you will need to fill out a FAFSA form to find out if you qualify – even if you don’t qualify for a Pell Grant, chances are that you will be able to get some other form of funding.

In general, the basic Pell Grant Requirements are that the student must come from a home that earns less than $20,000 annually and have a high school diploma or GED.


  • Hussain Shoaib

    Hussain Shoaib is an author and digital marketer with expertise in financial aid and education. He has extensive knowledge of the Pell grant and FAFSA, and has published numerous articles on these topics.

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