Don’t Miss Out on Federal Pell Grants

Financial Aid5 minutes

Millions of undergraduate students receive Federal Pell Grants every year to help pay for college, career school, or trade school. But many people miss out because they don’t think they’re eligible or don’t know how to apply. Don’t let this be you! Read on to learn what you need to know.

What is a Federal Pell Grant?

A Federal Pell Grant is a type of grant that provides funds to help pay for school. Pell Grants are typically awarded to undergraduate students who display exceptional financial need. Unlike federal student loans, Pell Grants don’t have to be paid back except under certain circumstances.

Millions of Pell Grants are awarded each year to eligible undergraduate students who submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form.

Pell Grants have been around for more than 50 years—the program started in 1972 to address the growing need for financial assistance for undergraduate students. Since then, millions of Pell Grants have been awarded to eligible students who submitted the FAFSA form each year they attended school.

Starting in the 2024–25 award year, an estimated 610,000 new students will be eligible for a Pell Grant. An additional 1.5 million students will be eligible for a maximum Pell Grant award.

How much money could I get from a Federal Pell Grant?

Every year, the federal government updates the maximum Federal Pell Grant award amount. For the 2024–25 award year, the maximum Pell Grant award is $7,395. These funds can be used to pay for school-related expenses at eligible two-year community colleges, career schools, trade schools, online schools, and four-year colleges and universities. You can receive Pell Grants for up to 12 full-time terms or about six years.

Some students may be able to receive up to 150% of their yearly Pell Grant award if they attend an additional school term. This is often called “year-round Pell.” For example, if you were awarded a $3,000 Pell Grant, you’d likely receive $1,500 in both your fall and spring semesters. But you may qualify for another Pell Grant of up to $1,500 if you enroll at least half-time during the summer semester.

Who is eligible for Federal Pell Grants?

Any undergraduate student, regardless of age, who hasn’t earned a bachelor’s, graduate, or professional degree may be eligible for a Federal Pell Grant if they have financial need and meet a few basic requirements.

Don’t let the term “financial need” make you assume that you won’t qualify for a Pell Grant. Your eligibility for a Pell Grant is based on more than just your (or your family’s) income. The federal government will also consider your family size, tax filing status, and the federal poverty guidelines to determine your eligibility for a Pell Grant .

If you already completed the 2024–25 FAFSA form, you’ll be able to find your estimated Pell Grant award on your FAFSA Submission Summary. If you haven’t submitted your FAFSA form yet, you can see how much in Pell Grant funds you may qualify for by using the Federal Student Aid Estimator.

Can you show me an example of students who are eligible for Federal Pell Grants?

Take a look at the image below to see how much Federal Pell Grant money each of these undergraduate students will receive. All three students are attending a school with a COA that’s $7,395 or more, but each student’s particular situation—such as family size and family income—is different.

Students receive different Pell Grant awards depending on their family’s information. Try the Federal Student Aid Estimator for an estimate of the student aid you may be eligible to receive.
How much Federal Pell Grant money will these students receive?
age 18
age 21
age 44
First-Year Student in Maryland Junior in Texas Sophomore in California
  • Not married, no dependents
  • Household of two, divorced parents
  • Dad has an annual income of $30,000 and $10,000 in assets
  • Mom doesn’t provide financial support
  • Not married, no dependents
  • Household of four
  • Parents have an annual income of $80,000 and $30,000 in assets
  • Married, three dependents
  • Household of five
  • Tamara and spouse have an annual income of $60,000 and $20,000 in assets
  • Tamara receives $10,000 a year in child support

I’m still not sure if I’m eligible for a Federal Pell Grant. What should I do?

Even if you’re not sure if you’re eligible for a Federal Pell Grant, don’t make any guesses. Find out for yourself by filling out the FAFSA form.

When you submit all the required information on your FAFSA form, the U.S. Department of Education and the schools you listed on the form will calculate your financial need for you. If you’re accepted to the schools, you’ll receive student aid offer letters that list the types and amounts of student aid that are available for you, including a Pell Grant if you’re eligible.

You have nothing to lose by submitting your FAFSA form, but not doing it could mean you’re passing up an opportunity to receive funding that you don’t have to pay back—up to $7,395, the maximum Pell Grant award for the 2024–25 award year. Missing out on thousands of dollars in Pell Grant funds may negatively impact your ability to afford and attend school, which could limit your future career options.

If you choose to attend a community college and receive a Pell Grant, you may find that it covers a large portion of your costs. Another option is to search for schools that help pay for education costs for Pell Grant recipients. Some schools, including four-year colleges and universities, will even cover any remaining yearly tuition and fees.

Not sure if you’re eligible for a Federal Pell Grant? Don’t guess—find out by completing the FAFSA form.

Filling out the FAFSA form isn’t as hard as you may think. Set yourself up for success by following these tips to complete your FAFSA form.

Remember: The FAFSA form is always free. If you need help, reach out to your current or prospective school’s financial aid office or visit our “2024–25 FAFSA® Help” page.

Learn more about Pell Grants—including how Pell Grants get disbursed (paid out) and what to do to maintain a Pell Grant—by visiting our page on Federal Pell Grants.