Becoming Eligible for the Pell Grant When You Are Unemployed

Written by Michael Bennet

I get questions about whether or not the Pell Grant can be acquired by the unemployed all the time, and the real answer is yes, as long as the person can satisfy the litany of Pell Grant eligibility requirements that determine if a particular student can become eligible.

  • The Pell Grant was actually designed to benefit people who are unemployed, and to those who may be struggling financially.

Typically unemployment denotes a low, or nonexistent income, which is ideal when one is attempting to become eligible for the Pell Grant program. Eligibility for the Pell Grant is mainly based on financial need, which is primarily based on income. People with little or no income will therefore have a much easier time at qualifying, and should also have a better chance at getting the full award amount.

Understanding How to Complete the FAFSA

Students who may be unemployed need to understand that their level of financial need will be calculated with regard to their current level of income, not their previous year’s income level. When completing the FAFSA students must answer questions that ask for income, or current income by giving accurate values with regard to being unemployed if that is the case. If the student has an income of zero, then that is what should be inserted when completing the FAFSA.

Certain sections may ask for a student’s previous year’s income, tax information, etc., and when this is the case the student should simply answer honestly. If they were employed during the previous year, then provide accurate information with regard to income for that particular year.

The bottom line is that students should have an easier time qualifying for the Pell Grant when they are unemployed due to the fact that they should have a higher level of financial need. If they are still considered to be a dependent, then that is a whole other story, as their parents’ financial information will be used as well, and will thus negate the advantages that being unemployed may have given to them.

A Pell Grant for unemployed students is something that can greatly help to pay for the costs of attending university, and it is highly recommended to get that FAFSA in as soon as possible in order to get the ball rolling.