What is the Federal Pell Grant (Gift Aid)? – Applying for Financial Aid


The Federal Pell Grant Program is a need based program that provides low-income undergraduate and certain postbaccalaureate student pursuing access towards a teaching degree program money that does not have to be paid back. Determining the amount of  the Pell grant is dependent on:

  • Students expected family contribution (EFC)
  • Cost of Attendance at attending institution
  • Students enrollment status
  • Length of attendance within an academic year

A Federal Pell grant is money you receive to go to school and do not have to pay back after you graduate from your program or leave school. There is a maximum limit on how much Pell grant a student can receive in their lifetime. The amount of the Pell grant that can be awarded to a student may change from year to year depending on the funding allocated by the United States Congress and student criteria. The current maximum amount approved for 2012-2013 award year is approximately $5550.00. It is important that that you check with the institution you are intending to attend to ascertain the maximum they can award.


To be eligible for a Pell grant, you must also meet the following general federal student aid eligibility requirements.

  • be a U.S. citizen or an eligible noncitizen ;
  • show you’re qualified to obtain a college or career school education by
    • having a high school diploma or a recognized equivalent such as a General Educational Development Certificate (GED) or
    • completing a high school education in a homeschool setting approved under state law.
  • be enrolled or accepted for enrollment as a regular student  in an eligible degree or certificate program;
  • demonstrate financial need (for most programs);
  • have a valid Social Security number (with the exception of students from the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, or the Republic of Palau);
  • be registered with Selective Service, if you’re a male (you must register between the ages of 18 and 25);
  • be enrolled at least half-time to be eligible for Direct Loan funds;
  • maintain satisfactory academic progress in college or career school; and
  • sign statements on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)  stating that
    • you are not in default on a federal student loan and do not owe money on a federal student grant and
    • you will use federal student aid only for educational purposes;

For more information, go to the following Education Department website: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/fpg/index.html.

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