Understanding Scholarships and Pell Grant in the United States
The Federal Pell Grant is awarded by the U.S. Department of Education and is based on the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The EFC is determined by information entered on the FAFSA. Pell Grants are awarded to both full and part-time undergraduate students who have not earned a bachelor’s or professional degree or its U.S. equivalence.
It’s important to know that the Department of Education limits the amount of time you may receive the Pell Grant. Once you have reached a lifetime eligibility of 600% (equal to 6 full years of study), you will no longer be eligible for the grant in the future. To see what percentage you have used, log in to NSLDS. You will want to look for the percentage of the “Lifetime Eligibility Used.” If your percentage is approaching 600%, please contact the Office of Financial Aid to determine a financial plan that allows you to graduate.
Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (SEOG)
This grant awards to students with exceptional need working on their first bachelor’s degree who are Pell eligible. Awards are based on the availability of funds, and range from $100 to $1,000 per academic year. Funding is extremely limited and is not guaranteed year to year.
Am I eligible?
Federal Pell Grants usually are awarded only to undergraduate students who display exceptional financial need and have not earned a bachelor’s, graduate, or professional degree. (In some cases, however, a student enrolled in a postbaccalaureate teacher certification program might receive a Federal Pell Grant.) You are not eligible to receive a Federal Pell Grant if you are incarcerated in a federal or state penal institution or are subject to an involuntary civil commitment upon completion of a period of incarceration for a forcible or nonforcible sexual offense.
Alert: Don’t accept unexpected offers of financial aid or help (such as a “pandemic grant” or “Biden loan forgiveness”) without checking with your school to see if the offer is legit. Learn how to avoid scams.
A Federal Pell Grant, unlike a loan, does not have to be repaid, except under certain circumstances. Find out why you might have to repay all or part of a federal grant.
You may not receive Federal Pell Grant funds from more than one school at a time.
Try This Resource
Federal Student Grant Programs—Lists federal student grant programs with program details and award limits.
How do I apply?
You should start by submitting a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form. Schools use the information on the FAFSA® form to determine your eligibility for a Pell Grant, and if so, how much you’re eligible to receive. You will have to fill out the FAFSA form every year you’re in school in order to stay eligible for federal student aid, including Pell Grant awards.
It’s important to understand the cost of attendance at your school of choice so that you can understand how much aid you might need. The cost of attendance of a school program is the annual cost advertised by the school, before financial aid is applied. Tuition and fees, room and board (housing and meals), and other additional education-related expenses (both direct and indirect) are included and may vary based on personal choices. Once you know the cost of attendance, you can better plan how to cover your educational expenses.
How much money can I get?
Amounts can change yearly. The maximum Federal Pell Grant award is $6,895 for the 2022–23 award year (July 1, 2022, to June 30, 2023).
The amount you get, though, will depend on
the cost of attendance (determined by your school for your specific program),
your status as a full-time or part-time student, and
To estimate how much you could qualify for, you’ll need the cost of attendance for your school and your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Once you have those, you can check the 2022–23 Federal Pell Grant payment schedule for an estimated award amount.
In certain situations, an eligible student can receive up to 150 percent of his or her scheduled Pell Grant award for an award year.
For example, if you are eligible for a $2,000 Pell Grant for the award year and are enrolled full-time for both the fall term and spring term, you’ll likely receive $1,000 in the fall and $1,000 in the spring. However, under certain circumstances, you may be eligible to receive up to an additional $1,000 for attendance in an additional term within that award year (resulting in your receiving 150% of your original award). You might hear this situation being referred to as “year-round Pell.” For details, contact your school’s financial aid office.
Please note that you can receive the Federal Pell Grant for no more than 12 terms or the equivalent (roughly six years). You’ll receive a notice if you’re getting close to your limit. If you have any questions, contact your financial aid office.
If you’re eligible for a Federal Pell Grant, you’ll receive the full amount you qualify for—each school participating in the program receives enough funds each year from the U.S. Department of Education to pay the Federal Pell Grant amounts for all its eligible students. The amount of any other student aid for which you might qualify does not affect the amount of your Federal Pell Grant.