Pell Grant Eligibility
Pell Grant Requirements

The Pell Grant is based on financial need, so students that are considered low-income will qualify for a Pell Grant.  Students that want to become eligible for a Pell Grant must also meet the following Pell Grant requirements.  These requirements all must be met or you will not qualify for a Pell Grant.

1:  Student must complete and submit the FAFSA application on or before their stateís deadline.

2:  Student must show a financial need or financial assistance in order to attend a post-secondary education.

3:  Student must attend a qualified Title IV school that is eligible to receive federal student aid funding.

4:  Student must also be a U.S. Citizen with a valid social security number.

5:  Student must registered with the selective services, if he or she is between the ages of 18 and 25.

Once the student meets the above requirements then they will be eligible to receive a Pell Grant.  There are a lot of misnomers that a Pell Grant is for Single Mothers or Women only, which is completely incorrect.  Many private businesses have marketed to single mothers because statistically they are low-income and want to attend college to better their live for themselves and their child.
There are two additional Pell Grant specific requirements that arenít discussed much:

1)The student must either be an undergraduate or be enrolled in an eligible post baccalaureate teaching credential program
2)The Student must not be incarcerated in a federal or state penal institution.

Undergraduate Students

A student must be an undergraduate to receive a Pell Grant. For Pell purposes, the regulations define an undergraduate as one who is enrolled in an undergraduate course of study and who hasnít earned a baccalaureate degree or its equivalent or a first professional degree.  A Professional degree means a degree offered by professional programs such as pharmacy, dentistry, or veterinary medicine.

An undergraduate course of study under the Pell Grant Requirements is one that usually doesnít exceed 4 academic years or is a program of 4 to 5 academic years designed to lead to a baccalaureate or first professional degree. If the program is longer than 5 years, then students enrolled in that program are considered undergraduate students only for the first 4 academic years of the program.

If a studentís baccalaureate or professional degree is from an unaccredited or foreign school, or isnít accepted or recognized at the school of current enrollment, this is irrelevant, and they are ineligible for Pell Grant funds. Also, if a student makes an undocumented claim of a degree on the FAFSA, they are likewise ineligible for Pell. However, in some cases, there may be written documentation that the baccalaureate degree from the foreign school is not equivalent to the baccalaureate degree awarded in the United States. In that event, the school in the United States may determine that the student does not have a baccalaureate degree. This documentation may include information about the type of institution and total years of education leading to the foreign degree.

A student who has already received an associate degree, but who enrolls in another undergraduate program, is considered an undergraduate student until he or she has completed the academic curriculum requirements for a first bachelorís degree.

Eligible Post Baccalaureate Programs

Certain students who have received a bachelorís degree can receive a Pell Grant when enrolled in post baccalaureate teacher certification programs. This is a very limited exception to the requirement that a Pell Grant recipient must be an undergraduate student enrolled in an undergraduate program. Because of the restrictions that apply to this provision, only a limited number of programs exist where students will be eligible for Pell Grants. An otherwise eligible student who has a bachelorís degree, and is enrolled in a post baccalaureate teacher certification or licensure program, is eligible to receive a Pell Grant for the period of time necessary to complete the program only if:

The program consists of the courses required by a state to receive a professional certification or licensing credential necessary for employment as a teacher in an elementary or secondary school in that state;
The program does not lead to a graduate degree; The school offering the program does not also offer a bachelorís degree in education;
The student is pursuing an initial teacher certification or
licensing credential within a state;
The student is enrolled at least half-time; and
The program is a post baccalaureate program.

Under this very limited provision, a post baccalaureate program is defined as a program that generally requires a student to have a bachelorís degree before being admitted to the program. Accordingly, a program in which undergraduate students are routinely allowed to enroll would not meet the definition of a post baccalaureate program. 

Incarcerated Students

Students incarcerated in federal and state penal institutions arenít eligible for Pell Grants. However, students incarcerated in local penal institutions can still receive Pell Grants. Students incarcerated by jurisdictions defined as a state in the law are considered to be incarcerated in a state penal institution and arenít eligible for Pell Grants. A student isnít considered incarcerated if he or she is in a halfway house or home detention, or sentenced to serve only on weekends.

The costs of attendance for incarcerated students are limited to tuition and fees and those books and supplies specifically related to the studentís course of study. 

As you can see, itís important to make sure you are in a qualified undergraduate school program pursuing your first undergraduate degree or you will not receive a Pell Grant.  Incarcerated students must be aware that not all institutions will approve funding for a Pell Grant.