Important Pell Grant Information To Keep In Mind

Written by Michael Bennet

There is a variety of important Pell Grant information to keep in mind for the current award year. Most of these things have stayed roughly the same on a yearly basis, although with the implementation of the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act, some of these items are new, and should be studied more closely for a full understanding of their meaning.

The following is an accounting of some of the most crucial federal Pell Grant information that you should keep an eye on if you want to make full use of this award.


  • It is federal education grant, and is therefore funded by the United States government.
  • The Pell Grant is awarded on an annual basis, and therefore must be applied for during each year you plan on attending college.
  • It is a grant, and you therefore don’t have to pay it back under normal circumstances.
  • The maximum Pell Grant amount is set at 5,645 dollars, although on-average students receive about half of this amount.


  • The Pell Grant is based primarily on financial need.
  • Students with the highest financial need will receive the most aid.
  • Financial need is based on the equation:
  • Financial Need = Cost of Attendance (CoA) – Expected Family Contribution (EFC)
  • The maximum cutoff EFC threshold to gain a positive Pell Grant eligibility status is set at 5,081. EFC values the closest to zero will be eligible for the most aid.
  • Other Pell Grant eligibility requirements are roughly the same as the requirements to become eligible for federal student aid with two exceptions.
  • Must be attending college in an undergraduate program, or teacher or professional postbaccalaureate program.
  • Cannot be incarcerated in a federal, or state penal institution.


  • The official Pell Grant application is the FAFSA.
  • Must complete a new FAFSA each award year to become eligible for the Pell Grant.
  • The sooner you apply, the better.
  • Earliest date to submit a FAFSA is January 1. Latest date to submit a FAFSA is June 30.

SAFRA and Pell Grant Future

  • The Pell Grant has changed slightly due to the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act, or SAFRA.
  • Major changes include:
  • An injection of tens of billions of dollars into the Pell Grant program over the next ten years.
  • A change in the maximum cutoff EFC threshold to 5,081, from 4,617.
  • An increase in the maximum Pell Grant amount to 5,645.
  • The maximum Pell Grant amount will begin to increase by the Consumer Price Index + 1% beginning in 2013.
  • The Pell Grant is continuing to evolve on an annual basis, and should be expected to change slightly each year.


The aforementioned items contain some of the most relevant Pell Grant information that you need to be aware of if you want to qualify for this award during any particular school year. The critical thing that you must keep in mind is that it is based primarily on need, and therefore your income, and your parents’ income if you are still considered to be a dependent, will play the most critical roles in determining your eligibility.

Your EFC will have the most significant effect on your ability to demonstrate the appropriate financial need, and this is mostly determined via your household’s level of income, and presence of assets. Other factors play a role as well, such as the number of family members that are currently in college, and the size of your family, but it is your income and assets that will have the most dramatic effect on your ability to get a Pell Grant for any particular award year.