The Federal Pell Grant Requirements

Written by Michael Bennet

The federal Pell Grant requirements that will allow you to become eligible for this award can be separated into two distinct categories. First you must be able to demonstrate the appropriate level of financial need, and this is determined primarily via your expected family contribution, or EFC.

Your EFC is calculated from certain kinds of information that you provided when you completed your FAFSA, and is primarily based upon your household’s income. If your EFC falls below 5,081 for the 2013-2014 school year you should be able to become eligible, although the amount you are able to receive will depend on several other factors.

Two Pell Grant Specific Requirements

The other category of Pell Grant requirements involves a number of questions and various criteria that must be met in order to become eligible. These requirements for the Pell Grant can be separated into Pell Grant specific, and general federal student aid eligibility requirements.

The Pell Grant specific requirements pertain exclusively to becoming eligible for the Pell Grant, while the general federal student aid requirements hold true for any student who wishes to become eligible for the various types of federal aid that are available.

The following two items are the Pell Grant specific requirements that you must satisfy in order to qualify.

  • Because the Pell Grant is geared towards providing aid to mostly undergraduate students, you must be pursuing your first associate’s, or bachelor’s degree in order to become eligible. The exception to this is if you are currently enrolled in a postbaccalaureate teacher certificate program, or another type of graduate-level program that can lead to licensure.
  • You must not currently be incarcerated in a state, or federal penal institution to receive a Pell Grant.

Federal Student Aid Eligibility Requirements

Once you have satisfied the above two Pell Grant specific requirements, you must then be able to fulfill the variety of other eligibility qualifications that pertain not only to the Pell Grant, but to all forms of federal student aid that is in existence.

You therefore must be able to satisfy these in order to become eligible for almost all types of federal student aid, including certain educational grants beyond the Pell, and the assortment of federal student loans that are available.

  • You must be a U.S. citizen, or eligible non-citizen.
  • You must be able to have a social security number that is valid.
  • You must be able to show that you will be able to benefit from your postsecondary education. A high school diploma, General Education Developmental certificate (GED), or other form of credential will satisfy this requirement.

    Other acceptable credentials include completing a state-approved home-schooling curriculum, passing what is known as an “ability to benefit” test, or completing a minimum level of coursework at an accredited postsecondary institution.

  • You must be enrolled at one of the 5,400 participating postsecondary institutions from across the nation in a degree-oriented program.
  • You must be registered with the Selective Service if you are a male between the ages of 18 and 25.
  • You may not be eligible for federal student aid if you were convicted of selling illegal drugs while you were currently receiving federal aid. You will have to complete a separate worksheet while filling out your FAFSA to determine if this requirement will prevent you from receiving aid for that particular award year.
  • A statement must be signed to certify that you will only utilize the proceeds of your federal aid, and your Pell Grant towards education related expenses, and that you don’t owe a refund for any federal grants, and that you’re not in default on any federal student loans.

By satisfying the aforementioned list of general federal student aid requirements, and the two Pell Grant specific eligibility requirements, you will be able to qualify for a Pell Grant as long as you can demonstrate the appropriate financial need.

Final Pell Grant Amount

The amount of Pell Grant aid that you are ultimately given will then be reliant on a certain factors, including your EFC, cost of attendance, enrollment status, and whether or not you plan to take classes over a full academic school year.

Contact the financial aid department at your college if you have any questions about any of the above Pell Grant requirements, as sometimes they can pull strings, and give you insight that isn’t readily obvious. Just remember to submit your Pell Grant application by June 30, or preferably as soon as possible after January 1, as most federal aid is allocated on a first-come, first-serve basis.