Can I receive Pell grant if parents are not US citizens?

Picture this scenario: you need to go to college yet you are low on funds. Borrowing from your parents is not an option since they themselves are pretty dry on cash. You try to seek help from private banks but the problem is you are not eligible to do so due to your underpowered paying capacity.

How about scholarship grants? Well, that is also a no-no. Your high school academic record is not that awesome. Too late to regret those all-night partying escapades at your friend’s crib. But seriously, during these trying times who will you depend on? Fortunately for you, there’s a Pell Grant.

A post-secondary scholarship grant which is sponsored by the United States federal government, Pell Grant is awarded to students who are financially challenged yet still wish to pursue a college education. Named after Clairborne Pell–a Democrat U.S. senator from Rhode Island, this program is formerly known as the Basic Educational Opportunity Grant. Compared to other federal financial assistance programs, the Pell Grant does not require repayments of any sort.

On the other hand, the grant is awarded based on criteria approved and submitted by the U.S. Congress via the FAFSA or the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form. To be technical about it, the Higher Education Act of 1965 is the legislation responsible for the approval of the Pell Grant.

You almost leaped from your high school building rooftop in joy after realizing that the Pell Grant is your key to the financially rewarding possibilities of college. As you head for the nearest bar to celebrate, a friend whom you earlier informed via phone about your discovery slapped a petrifying question in your face: are you still qualified for Pell Grant even if your mom and dad are not US citizens?

As for the scathing words of your friend, who by the way is the same person who organized those highly intoxicating parties in high school, your beer mug almost slipped from your shaking hands.

Relax! No need to get melodramatic about this. Here is the good news: even if your parents are far from being American citizens, you are still qualified to get the Pell Grant. Unless you are not a U.S. citizen yourself, you will benefit from the education grant that the U.S. Department of Education offers.

To put it more simply, it is your citizenship that matters here and not your mom and dad. If you are legally a citizen of the United States of America, then you can utilize the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form to apply for the Pell Grant. Just make sure that you complete the Free Application for Federal Student form and have it sent to the responsible department in your school.

This is very important since this will determine if you are eligible for the grant. In case your parent’s social security numbers are not available, you still can file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form provided that your parent’s file and pay their taxes with their ITIN or Individual Tax Identification Number.


  • 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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1 thought on “Can I receive Pell grant if parents are not US citizens?”

  1. HI this Raul P Santos, a Filipino.. My daughter Daryl V, Santos is dreaming to become a doctor and looking for a scholarship grant ? is she eligible to apply as tourist>

    Thank you

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