Factors That Determine Your Pell Grant

Pell grant is one of the most useful grants for under-privilege students to help them pursue college education. If you are financially weak and want to take up a bachelor’s program, then you should apply for this grant. This grant is available to US citizens with family or personal income less than $20000.

People interested in applying for this grant often ask ‘how much grant can I get?’ They should know that the amount of grant depends on their financial condition and the cost of attending the program. The maximum Pell grant in the year 2010-2011 is $5,550.

The factors on which Pell grant depends are –

Expected Family Contribution

Expected family contribution is the amount that the student or his / her family will pay for pursuing the program. There are fixed formulae for calculating the EFC. The students who have negative EFC are eligible for higher Pell grants. EFC is calculated based on the information given by the student in his/her FAFSA application.

There are many websites that help you in calculating EFC. The calculated EFC will give you the approximate idea of how much grant you can get. For independent students their personal income is taken into the account while calculating EFC, whereas for dependent students, the family income is considered.

To qualify as independent student you should fulfill any one of the following conditions

• Your age is 24 years or above.
• You are married
• You have children or dependents
• You are orphan
• You are veteran of US armed forces

If you do not fulfill any of the above criteria you are considered as a dependent student, and in that case your family income will be considered for calculating EFC. For calculating EFC, the basic amount required by family to take care of their needs is subtracted from the total income. The amount required for contingencies is also subtracted from the total income.

EFC = Total income – Minimum amount required for basic family needs – Taxes – Amount required for contingencies + A portion of the assets (if they exceed certain limit)

Cost Of Attendance

The cost of attendance means the cost incurred towards attending the program. This will include tuition fees, expenses towards books, and other supplies required for pursuing program, boarding expenses, and other personal expenses.

There is a minimum amount that is given to students irrespective of their actual expenses. In some special cases other costs may also be included. For e.g. single mothers may have to incur childcare expenses while they are attending college and this may also be included in the cost of attendance.

The final grant is calculated by deducting the expected family contribution from the cost of attendance. So, students who are financially weak will get more grant aid than other students who are financially better off as compared to them.


  • 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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