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Why Am I Not Eligible For Pell Grant?

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

While many students are eligible to receive Pell Grants, there are several reasons why a student may not be eligible. Understanding these reasons can help students better navigate the financial aid process and identify alternative educational funding sources.

In this post, we will answer the question "Why Am I Not Eligible for Pell Grant" and provide information on other financial aid options that may be available. Let's begin.

What is a Pell Grant?

A Pell Grant is a form of need-based financial aid the U.S. federal government provides to help low-income undergraduate students pay for their college education. It is the largest need-based grant program in the country, and it does not have to be repaid.

The Pell Grant program aims to ensure that all eligible students, regardless of their financial circumstances, have access to a college education.

Who is Eligible to Receive a Pell Grant?

Pell Grants are available to students pursuing their first bachelor's degree. You must show that you need the grant based on the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) obtained from your FAFSA.

You must also be enrolled in an eligible undergraduate degree or certificate program to receive a Pell Grant. Post-baccalaureate students are not eligible. To continue receiving Pell Grants, you must maintain satisfactory academic progress (SAP) according to your school's standards.

If you are convicted of a drug violation while receiving federal student aid, you may be ineligible for a Pell Grant. Eligibility for Pell Grants can change yearly based on changes to your financial situation or the program's funding levels. Complete the FAFSA yearly to determine your federal financial aid eligibility, including the Pell Grant.

If you want a detailed article if you’re eligible for a Pell grant, check out our blog about Eligibility for Pell Grant.

Financial Aid Requirements for Pell Grants

The amount of Pell Grant funding a student qualifies for is determined by their EFC, cost of attendance, enrollment status, and other factors.

Cost of Attendance

This is the estimated cost of attending a college or university for an academic year, including tuition, fees, room and board, books and supplies, transportation, and personal expenses.

Enrollment Status

A student's enrollment level for a particular semester is usually classified as full-time, three-quarter-time, half-time, or less than half-time. Enrollment status determines a student's eligibility for financial aid programs like the Pell Grant.

Professional Degree Requirements

Eligibility for Pell Grants is generally limited to undergraduate students pursuing their first bachelor's degree. Professional degrees are considered beyond the baccalaureate level and are generally not qualified for Pell Grants.

Dependent Student Requirements

Whether a student is considered dependent or independent can impact their eligibility for financial aid programs like the Pell Grant. Dependent students must provide their parents' financial information when applying for aid, while independent students provide their financial information.

School Diploma Requirements

Students must have a high school diploma or equivalent, such as a GED, to be considered for the Pell Grant.

Summer Term Enrollment Requirement

Students must be enrolled at least half-time in an eligible program during the summer term to be eligible for Pell Grant funding.

Income Limits for Eligibility

Pell Grant eligibility is primarily based on financial need, as determined by the EFC calculated from information provided on the FAFSA. There is no income limit, but there's a maximum EFC to be eligible to receive Pell Grant.

For 2023, the maximum EFC is 6656.

Reasons Why You May Not Be Eligible for a Pell Grant

Several reasons a student may not be eligible for a Pell Grant include not demonstrating financial need and not being enrolled in an eligible program. Please meet SAP and receive a drug conviction to make you eligible for the grant.

If you've exhausted the lifetime limit on the amount of Pell Grant funding a student can receive, you will no longer be eligible for succeeding Pell Grants.

Undergraduate Students vs. Graduate Students

Pell Grants are strictly for undergraduate students pursuing their first bachelor's degree. If you're pursuing your second bachelor's degree, you will no longer be eligible for the Pell Grant. If you're completing a master's degree, you're also not eligible for a Pell Grant.

U.S. Citizenship or Permanent Resident Status Required Financial Aid Office Review of Your Situation

You must be a U.S. citizen or have a valid Social Security number if you are not a citizen. Eligible noncitizens include permanent residents (green card holders), refugees, and asylees.

You may be eligible for state or institutional aid programs if you need to meet these citizenship or permanent resident requirements.

Meeting the Eligibility Criteria for Federal Student Aid and Loans Exceeding the Lifetime Limit for Pell Grants

The lifetime limit for Pell Grants is equivalent to six years of full-time enrollment. Once students have received Pell Grant funding for six years, they are no longer eligible for additional Pell Grants. This lifetime limit includes all Pell Grant funding received, regardless of the institution attended or the number of programs pursued.

Suppose a student reaches the lifetime limit for Pell Grants but still requires financial assistance to complete their education. In that case, they may be eligible for other types of federal student aid, such as federal student loans. Additionally, some states and institutions offer financial aid programs that can help students cover the cost of tuition and other expenses.


Federal student aid like the Pell Grant is a valuable resource for completing a college degree. However, in some cases, you may not qualify for a Pell Grant, and you may be wondering why you're not eligible for a Pell Grant.

There are multiple reasons, like your financial standing, academic progress, and situation.

It is vital to work closely with your school's financial aid office to explore all available options for funding your education and to develop a financial plan that meets your needs. This may involve a combination of federal and state aid, scholarships, grants, and work-study programs, as well as careful budgeting and planning to manage expenses and minimize debt.

Confused about your Pell Grant eligibility? Uncover the factors at play in our article that breaks down the Pell Grant income limits for 2023. Knowledge is the key to navigating financial aid!

Are you a part-time student? Learn how Pell Grants can help part-time students in this blog.

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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