The Most Critical Pell Grant Guidelines

Written by Michael Bennet

While there are a number of eligibility requirements that students must satisfy in order to qualify, there are certain Pell Grant guidelines that must be fulfilled in order to receive, and maintain their eligibility status.

The Pell Grant is a federal educational grant that is provided by the Department of Education, and it is not a loan, or a private grant of any sort. This essentially translates into focused guidelines that are in line with what the federal government sees fit—not what some independent private party may stipulate for any particular award year.

Students must understand that what they do with their Pell Grant award will have an effect on their ability to get additional federal student aid going forward. The Pell Grant is a federal award, and the entire process of applying and receiving such government aid goes hand in hand with what the Department of Education mandates for its students on a yearly basis.

The bottom line is that students shouldn’t think that their Pell Grant comes as free money without any strings attached, as I have seen numerous students over the years abuse their award money, and get into serious trouble later on down the line.

Critical Pell Grant Guidelines

That being said, I now want to quickly go over what I think are some of the more important guidelines for the Pell Grant program, as there are certain things that students often overlook after they have heard about the major eligibility requirements for the grant.

  • Annual FAFSA Submission: Just because a student was awarded a Pell Grant during a specific academic year doesn’t necessarily mean that they will receive one for any other academic term, as the Pell Grant needs to be applied for on an annual basis. This essentially means that students simply need to make sure to submit their FAFSA each year, and because this can be done with a student’s previous year’s information online, applying on an annual basis has never been easier!
  • Maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress: Students must maintain what is considered to be satisfactory academic progress as defined by their particular postsecondary institution in order to remain eligible to receive Pell Grant aid. This often means keeping one’s gpa above a 2.0, although students should find out their school’s definition of satisfactory academic progress before taking this common standard to heart.
  • Cannot Be On Full Scholarship: I get this question quite frequently, and 99 percent of the time the answer is yes, you cannot become eligible for the Pell Grant program if you are on full scholarship. This would mean that a student’s entire financial need would be negated, and that no remaining education related expenses would be leftover after the scholarship aid was properly utilized, thus leaving no room for the application of Pell Grant funds.
  • Pell Grant Overpayments: A Pell Grant overpayment occurs when a student has received Pell Grant aid when they weren’t supposed to, or when they used their aid on something that was not education related. When this happens the Pell Grant funding that the student received must be paid back, and until this happens the student’s record gets stricken with an overpayment status. This Pell Grant guideline is important to follow because having an overpayment can prevent a student from receiving any sort of future federal student aid, and the Pell Grant during subsequent award terms.