Navigating the financial aspect of pursuing higher education can be challenging, especially for those with limited resources, such as low-income college students. Fortunately, the US federal government offers the Pell Grant.
However, not all students qualify, as there are income limits that determine eligibility. This post explores the Pell Grant income limits, as well as other eligibility criteria.
What To Know About The Pell Grant?
The Pell Grant is a need-based financial aid program the US federal government offers to low-income undergraduate students pursuing their first bachelor's degree. The grant does not have to be repaid and can be used to cover tuition costs and other educational expenses. Thousands of students get aid through this program, easing their college costs.
For the 2024-2025 academic year, the maximum Pell Grant award is $7,395. However, the grant amount varies based on the student's financial need, the cost of tuition at their school, and whether they are enrolled full-time or part-time.
Who is Eligible for a Pell Grant?
Eligible students should note the following eligibility requirements:
- Undergraduate students who have not yet earned a bachelor's or professional degree
- Eligible degree students, including those in certain post-baccalaureate programs
- A student who is a US Citizen, permanent resident, or eligible non-citizen
- A student with demonstrated financial need, which is determined by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
- A student whose parent or legal guardian died during active duty service
Are There Income Limits For Receiving A Pell Grant?
There are no strict income cutoffs for receiving federal student aid. However, family income and family size often influence eligibility.
The grant amount varies based on the student's financial need, determined by the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) calculated through the FAFSA. For SY 2024-2025, EFC will be renamed Student Aid Index.
The maximum EFC to get a Pell Grant for 2024-2025 is 6656.
What About The Amount Of Awarded Funds?
The awarded funds through a Pell Grant vary based on factors, including the student's financial need, the average cost of attending their chosen institution, and their enrollment status. Additionally, the maximum Pell Grant award amount changes annually.
Double Check The Maximum Award Amounts
It's crucial to double-check the maximum award amount for the academic year you plan to apply for a Pell Grant, as the amount can shift yearly. Eligibility limits and the grant amount you receive may be lower than the maximum award, depending on your financial need and other factors.
Cost Of Attendance And Family Contribution
The cost of attendance at the institution you plan to attend and your family's expected financial contribution (as determined by the FAFSA) also influence the amount of Pell Grant funds you receive. Students with a higher cost of attendance and lower expected family contribution are typically eligible for more Pell Grant funding.
The cost of attendance (COA) estimates the total cost of attending a particular college or university for one academic year. It includes direct costs (such as tuition, fees, and room and board) and indirect costs (such as textbooks, transportation, and personal expenses). This is determined by the school since it changes depending on the institution.
Enrollment Status (Full-Time or Part-Time)
Your enrollment status also affects the amount of Pell Grant funding you can receive. Typically, students enrolled full-time receive more funds than those enrolled part-time, as their cost of attendance is higher.
Need-Based Aid and Professional Degree Programs
The Pell Grant is a need-based aid program, meaning it is only available to students who can demonstrate financial need. However, it is available to students pursuing both undergraduate and some post-baccalaureate programs but not for professional degree programs like law or medicine.
5 Factors That Determine Eligibility For Low-Income Students
Five main factors determine eligibility criteria for low-income students to receive the Pell Grant. These factors are:
- Financial Need
- Dependency Status
- Enrollment Status
- Cost of Attendance
- Expected Family Contribution (ECC)
What To Know About The Dependent Student Status?
Dependent students, usually school graduates under 24, rely on their parents for financial support. If you are a dependent student, your Pell Grant eligibility is based on your parent's income and household size. Your parents must provide their financial information on the FAFSA to determine your eligibility for the Pell Grant.
School Diploma Or GED Requirements
Eligible students must have a high school diploma or GED for Pell Grant eligibility. If you do not have a high school diploma or GED, you will not be eligible for federal financial aid, including the Pell Grant.
Types of Financial Aid In Conjunction With The Pell Grant
In addition to the Pell Grant, students might also qualify for other types of financial aid, such as merit-based grants and need-based grants. This could include:
Federal Student Loans
Federal student aid program loans, which must be repaid after graduation. These can be Direct Subsidized or Unsubsidized loans.
Private student loans are also an option, but they typically have higher interest rates and stricter repayment terms than federal loans. Aside from the Pell Grant, there are other scholarships and government grants available for struggling students. Check with the FSA for your options, especially for the latest Pell Grant income limits.
Are you living in California? Check out these student grants available for residents in California.