Instated by the federal government to make attending postsecondary schools more readily accessible for low-income students, the Federal Pell Grant Program provides need-based funds to undergraduate students. There are plenty of questions to be answered about the program and its eligibility requirements, application process, payments and more, so below are some of the most commonly inquired about subjects in the program.

Who is eligible for Federal Pell Grant Funds?

Undergraduate or vocational students who have not earned a bachelor’s or professional degree. Certain individuals enrolled in a postbaccalaureate teacher certification program might also be eligible. All students must also meet the Basic Eligibility Criteria for federal student aid and be enrolled or accepted for enrollment in a participating school.

Is a certain GPA required?

No, Federal Pell Grants are not merit-based. However, you must comply with your school’s standards for satisfactory academic progress toward a degree in order to maintain eligibility.

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How can I apply for a Federal Pell Grant?

Fill out the FAFSA, a free application that is used to apply for federal student aid. It evaluates your financial need and status.

What is the FAFSA and what does it determine?

Using the information you provide, the FAFSA will calculate your Expected Family Contribution, which is an index number that will measure your family’s financial strength and ability to pay for college. It’s the most significant number in the financial aid process as it’s used in determining the amount of need-based aid you can receive.

How is my Financial Need Determined?

To calculate your Financial Need, the school will subtract your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) from the school’s Cost of Attendance (COA). That number is your Financial Need and will determine the amount of money you can receive. Although the COA might differ from school to school, your EFC will not change. 

How much money can I get from the Federal Pell Grant program?

The amount of money awarded depends on your Financial Need. For the 2015-2016 academic year, the maximum award amount is $5,775. The minimum is $588.

Who determines the award amount that I receive from a Federal Pell Grant?

Using a formula that factors in your EFC, COA and enrollment status as a full-time or part-time student, your college or career school will determine the amount of money awarded to you through Federal Pell Grant funds.

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How will my Federal Pell Grant money be disbursed?

The financial aid office at your college or university will disburse money either directly to you, credit funds to your account or use a combination of both.