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What Is The Income Limit Pell Grant?

Written by: Jody Adams
Last updated: January 31, 2024

With college costs constantly increasing, financial aid has become more crucial than ever. With the Pell Grant, students can get the financial support they don't have to repay. 1As long as you meet the eligibility requirements, including the Pell Grant income limits, you'd qualify for this program.

2022-2023 Income Limits for Pell Grants - Do You Qualify?

For most financial aid programs, income limits are a common requirement. The good news is that for the Pell Grant, there are no exact income limits to qualify for the Pell Grant. Instead, eligibility is determined based on your EFC score, the institution's cost of attendance, and if you're attending a half-time or full-time term.

How does Pell Grant income limits work?

The Pell Grant income limits are determined based on the Expected Family Contribution (EFC), calculated using the financial information provided on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

The income limit for Pell Grant eligibility depends on the EFC, which considers income, household size, and the number of family members who go to college. Students with a lower EFC are more likely to be eligible for the Pell Grant and may receive a larger award.

Pell Grant income limits are changing: What to Know.

In 2021, Congress passed the FAFSA Simplification Act, which the DoE is implementing in phases until the full implementation by July 2024. In this Act, the EFC will be replaced by the Student Aid Index (SAI).

It's still calculated roughly the same way as the EFC, but certain provisions make the process easier and more reflective of the true needs of low-income students.

For instance, Pell Grant eligibility will be based on a multiple of the poverty line. You will get the full Pell Grant if your household's income is between zero and 175% to 400% of the poverty line.

How much is a Pell Grant worth?

For SY 2023-2024, the maximum Pell Grant is worth $7,395. However, if your EFC is high, you'd get lower than this amount. Likewise, if you take three terms in a year (summer, spring, and fall), you can get 150% of the Pell Grant amount.

If one of your parents died during the Afghan war or while serving an active line of duty, you could also get additional funding.

Eligibility Requirements

Students who wish to participate in the Pell Grant program must meet several eligibility requirements related to their income, coursework, chosen institution, academic performance, and citizenship.

Who Qualifies for Pell Grants?

To qualify for a Pell Grant, you should be an undergraduate student without a bachelor's or professional degree. You must also demonstrate financial need based on the EFC, as determined by the FAFSA.

You should at least be a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen, be enrolled or accepted for an eligible degree or certificate program, and maintain satisfactory academic progress. Finally, you must not have been convicted for a drug-related offense while receiving federal financial aid.

However, changes in the Pell Grant will soon allow incarcerated students to be eligible for the grant.

Dependent vs. Independent Students

The Pell Grant income limits vary for dependent and independent students. Dependent students are claimed to be dependent on their parent's tax returns. Most students fall into this criteria and must report their parents' information when completing the FAFSA form.

Independent students meet certain criteria, such as being at least 24 years old, married, or having dependents. Only their income is considered when calculating how much student aid they're entitled to, and the parent's income will not count towards the calculation. Because of this, independent students receive more financial aid.

Cost of Attendance & Family Contribution Guidelines

The amount of a student's Pell Grant award is also determined by the cost of attendance at their college or university and their EFC. The EFC is calculated based on the student's family income, assets, and other factors and represents the amount of money the family is expected to contribute toward the student's education.

The cost of attendance is equated to the total amount of money a student is estimated to need to cover their costs associated with a particular academic year, including tuition, fees, room and board, books and supplies, and personal expenses.

The combination of the student's EFC and the cost of attendance will determine the maximum amount of Pell Grant funding they can receive.

Enrollment Status Requirements

A student must also meet certain enrollment status requirements to receive a Pell Grant. They must be enrolled in an eligible undergraduate program and work towards their first bachelor's degree, although certain post-baccalaureate programs may also be eligible.

Additionally, students must be enrolled at least half-time, typically taking at least six credit hours per semester or quarter. If students drop below half-time enrollment, their Pell Grant award may be reduced or eliminated.

Students need to maintain their enrollment status and communicate any enrollment changes to their school's financial aid office to ensure that they continue receiving their full Pell Grant award.

Application Process

Applying for the Pell Grant is a straightforward process. Here's what you need to know.

Obtaining an FSA ID and Completing the FAFSA

Applying for a Pell Grant requires students to finish the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) each year. The FAFSA establishes whether a student is eligible for federal financial aid, including Pell Grants and state and institutional aid programs.

Students and their parents (if dependent) must first get a Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID to finish the FAFSA. This ID is a digital signature and allows students and their parents to electronically sign and submit the FAFSA. The FSA ID can be obtained through the Federal Student Aid website.

Once the FSA ID has been obtained, the student can complete the FAFSA online or through a paper application. The FAFSA requires detailed financial and personal information, including tax returns and other financial documents.

Submitting Documentation and Financial Aid Applications to Your School's Financial Aid Office

Once a student has completed the FAFSA, they may be required to submit additional documentation to their school's financial aid office. This documentation may include tax returns, proof of citizenship or residency, and household size and income verification.

Student Aid Report (SAR) & Expected Family Contribution (EFC) Calculation

After submitting the FAFSA, the student will be rewarded the Student Aid Report (SAR) that summarizes the information provided on the application. The SAR will also indicate the student's EFC, which is used to determine their eligibility for federal financial aid programs, including the Pell Grant.

Eligibility Notification from Your School's Financial Aid Office

After the financial aid office at a student's school has reviewed their FAFSA and any additional documentation, they will send the student an eligibility notification. This notification will outline the types and amounts of financial aid the student can receive.

It is important for students to carefully review this notification and understand the terms and conditions of each type of financial aid they are offered. Some types of aid, such as grants and scholarships, may not need to be repaid, while others, such as loans, will need to be repaid with interest.

Students should also be aware of any requirements to maintain their eligibility for the financial aid they have been awarded. These requirements may include maintaining a certain GPA, completing a certain number of credit hours, or meeting other academic or financial standards.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to your commonly asked questions.

Do I get 20k if I had a Pell Grant?

Based on Biden's student debt relief program, Pell Grant awardees will get a maximum of $20,000 in debt relief for their student loans. However, the courts currently block this program until a further decision can be reached if the government resumes awarding this loan forgiveness amount.

What is the Parent Income Limit for FAFSA?

The Parent Income Limit for FAFSA is not a fixed amount. Instead, the amount of financial aid a student is eligible for is determined by a formula that considers family income, household size, and the number of family members attending college.

Why is my Pell Grant lower?

There are several reasons why your Pell Grant may be lower, including changes in your financial circumstances, a decrease in the cost of attendance at your school, and changes to the maximum Pell Grant award amount set by the federal government. Your Pell Grant award amount may be prorated if you are enrolled part-time.

Qualifying for the Pell Grant may sound complicated, but it's a straightforward process. If you truthfully answer all the questions in the FAFSA form, you'd get a timely response if you qualify for this aid.

Need more resources about Pell Grants? Visit our article about who receives Pell Grant to know more!

Remember that the Pell Grant is not the only financial aid available. You can pursue other options, such as scholarships and student loans. Check out our blog for more information on scholarships for children of veterans.

Jody Adams
Jody Adams is an accomplished editor-in-chief with a deep understanding of social care and government benefits issues. With a background in journalism and a master's degree in Public Policy, Jody has spent her career shaping the narrative around social policies and their impact on society. She has worked with renowned publications, effectively bridging the gap between complex policy analysis and public understanding. Jody's editorial expertise ensures that vital information on social care and government benefits reaches a broad audience, empowering individuals to make informed decisions.
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