Pell Grant Information

A Pell Grant is for students that are considered low-income and need additional financial assistance to pay for their college education.  The Pell Grant is meant for students that are pursuing their first undergraduate degree or for students pursuing their first post- baccalaureate degree in teaching.  Students must also attend a Title IV approved school that meet the requirements of the Federal Department of Education program.

The Pell Grant is named after U.S. Senator Claiborne Pell, Democrat of Rhode Island, and was originally known as the Basic Educational Opportunity Grant. A Pell Grant is generally considered to be the foundation of a student's financial aid package, to which other forms of aid are added.  The Federal Pell Grant program is sponsored by the Department of Education which determines the student's financial need based on the FAFSA application. The U.S Department of Education uses a standard formula to evaluate financial information reported on the FAFSA to determine the student's expected family contribution (EFC).  Once an EFC score is received, students and their financial aid office will receive a SAR (Student Aid Report) Report, which determines if they are eligible to receive a Pell Grant.  
The Federal Pell Grant is not like loans and do not have to be repaid.  Students may use their grants at any one of approximately 5,400 participating postsecondary institutions. These federally funded grants help about 5.4 million full-time and part-time college and vocational school students nationally. 

Several Pell Grant changes occurred in 2011, which include:

1)  More questions skipped on the Pell Grant Application
2)  No minimum enrollment hours continued
3)  Higher income allowed
4)  Summer Pell Grants calculated for the higher of the two possible award years
5)  New regulation that schools must disburse Pell funds by the seventh day of the start of the payment period (school session).

Eligibility for federal student aid is based on financial need and on several other factors. The financial aid administrator at the college or career school you plan to attend will determine your eligibility.

To receive aid from the Pell Grant programs, you must

+  Demonstrate financial need (except for certain loans).
Have a high school diploma or a General Education Development (GED) certificate, pass an ability-to-benefit (ATB) test approved by the U.S. Department of Education, meet other standards your state establishes that the Department approves, complete a high school education in a home school setting that is treated as such under state law, or have satisfactorily completed six credit hours or the equivalent course work toward a degree or certificate. 
Be enrolled or accepted for enrollment as a regular student working toward a degree or certificate in an eligible program. Note: You might be able to receive aid for distance education courses as long as they are part of a recognized certificate or degree program.
Be a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen.
Have a valid Social Security Number. 
Register with the Selective Service if required.
Maintain satisfactory academic progress once in school.
Certify that you are not in default on a federal student loan and do not owe money on a federal student grant.
Certify that you will use federal student aid only for educational purposes.

The Higher Education Act of 1965 as amended (HEA) suspends aid eligibility for students who have been convicted under federal or state law of the sale or possession of drugs, if the offense occurred during a period of enrollment for which the student was receiving federal student aid (grants, loans, and/or work-study

If you have lost federal student aid eligibility due to a drug conviction, you can regain eligibility if you pass two unannounced drug tests conducted by a drug rehabilitation program that complies with criteria established by the U.S. Department of Education.

Civil Commitment for Sexual Offenses - A student subject to an involuntary civil commitment after completing a period of incarceration for a forcible or nonforcible sexual offense is ineligible to receive a Federal Pell grant.
Even if you are ineligible for federal aid, you should complete the FAFSA because you may be eligible for nonfederal aid from states and private institutions.  If you are convicted of a drug-related offense after you submit the FAFSA, you might lose eligibility for federal student aid, and you might be liable for returning any financial aid you received during a period of ineligibility.

Pell Grant Eligibility