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Types Of Federal Pell Grants

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

Pell Grants are a form of federal financial aid awarded to students attending college or career school who demonstrate financial need. These grants are awarded to students who are pursuing an undergraduate degree or certificate. Different types of federal Pell grants include:

  1. Federal Pell Grant: This is the most common type of Pell Grant, and it is awarded to undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need.
  2. Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG): This grant is for first and second year undergraduates who have completed a rigorous high school curriculum.
  3. National SMART Grant: This grant is for third- and fourth year undergraduate students who major in mathematics, science, technology, engineering, or a foreign language.
  4. Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant: This grant is for students who plan to teach in a high-need field in a low-income area.
  5. Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant: This grant is for students whose parents or guardians died as a result of their service in Iraq or Afghanistan after September 11, 2001.

Pell Grants are considered to be a "foundational" form of federal financial aid, meaning that they are the first form of aid students should apply for. Eligibility for Pell Grants is determined by factors such as income level, family size, number of family members enrolled in postsecondary education, and other factors. 

Students must meet certain criteria to be eligible for a Pell Grant. Students must also be U.S. citizens or eligible non-citizens, with a valid Social Security Number and a high school diploma or equivalent.

Requirements For Applying For A Pell Grant

Requirements For Applying For A Pell Grant

Students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to apply for a Pell Grant. This form will help determine a student's eligibility for federal aid and other forms of student aid. 

The information provided on the FAFSA form will also be used to calculate a student’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The EFC is the amount of money the student and their family are expected to contribute toward the student’s educational expenses.

Qualifying Academic Programs And Institutions

Pell Grants are available to students enrolled in degree or certificate programs offered by accredited public and private nonprofit universities, colleges, and career schools. The institution must be eligible to participate in the Federal Student Aid Program.

Maximum Award Amounts By Eligibility Category

The maximum amount of a Pell Grant is determined by the student’s EFC, the cost of attendance (COA) at the school the student attends, and the student’s enrollment status. The amount of a Pell Grant is also subject to change each year. Generally, the maximum amount of a Pell Grant for a full-time student is $6,345 for the 2020-2021 academic year.

Military Service Impact On Eligibility

Students who have served in the military may be eligible for additional Pell Grant funds. Depending on their financial needs and other factors, these students may be eligible for a Pell Grant of up to $6,345.

Application Process And Requirements

To apply for a Pell Grant, students must complete the FAFSA form. They can complete the form online or by mail. In addition to completing the FAFSA form, students must also submit any other required documents to their college or university’s financial aid office. These documents may include tax returns, bank statements, and other documents that provide proof of income and other financial information.

Completing The FAFSA Form

When completing the FAFSA form, students must provide information about their family size, income, and assets. This information will be used to determine a student’s EFC and eligibility for a Pell Grant.

Submitting Supporting Documentation To Establish Eligibility

In addition to completing the FAFSA form, students must also submit additional documents to their college or university’s financial aid office. This may include tax returns, bank statements, and other documents that provide proof of income and other financial information.

Reviewing Academic Progress Requirements

Students must also meet academic progress requirements in order to be eligible for a Pell Grant. These requirements may include maintaining a minimum grade point average (GPA), completing a certain number of credit hours each term, or taking certain classes each term.

Cost Considerations

When considering a Pell Grant, students should also consider the cost of attendance (COA) at the school they plan to attend. The COA includes tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, and other miscellaneous expenses. The COA determines a student’s eligibility for a Pell Grant and the maximum amount of a Pell Grant.

Financial Contribution From Family Members

Students should also consider the financial contribution their family members may make toward their educational expenses. This can include contributions from parents, grandparents, or other family members.

Calculation Of Cost of Attendance (COA)

The cost of attendance (COA) is the total amount of money a student will spend attending a school. This includes tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, and other miscellaneous expenses. The COA determines a student’s eligibility for a Pell Grant and the maximum amount of a Pell Grant.

Want to grasp the income boundaries for Pell Grants this year? Explore our detailed post on the Pell Grant income limits for 2023 to ensure you're fully informed.

If you are interested in more articles like this, here’s one comparing Pell Grant and FAFSA.

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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