Pell Grant Information Site

The Federal Pell Grant Program is a program that offers grants to college students based on financial need. The Pell Grant is sponsored by the United States Department of Education, and was named after Senator Claiborne Pell. The Pell Grant program legislation is entitled the Higher Education Act of 1965, Title IV, Part A, Subpart 1; 20 U.S.C. 1070a. The grant was originally called the ‘Basic Educational Opportunity Grant’.

The Pell Grant program is available to undergraduate, and some graduate, students. Students can use their grants in approximately 5,400 colleges and universities in the United States.

The amount of the grant awarded to the student depends on the student’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC), as calculated by the FAFSA form the student completes. The EFC is based on family income and other factors. The Pell Grant amount also considers the tuition at the college chosen by the student, whether the student will attend college on a part-time or full-time basis, and other criteria.

After the student and parents of the student complete the standard online FAFSA form, the student will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR). Alternatively, the college will receive an Institutional Student Information Record (ISIR). These documents will serve as notification of student eligibility for the Federal Pell Grant. The family tuition contribution (the EFC) is also included in the documents received by the family and/or university.

Federal budgetary legislation was in 2006. This legislation cut federal financial aid by more than $12 billion. This legislation also increased the maximum Pell Grant limit to $5,800 per student. Because the number of eligible students is expected to increase, maximum available award was frozen at $4,050 per student, in order to keep the total Pell Grant budget intact.

Until 2005, the maximum Pell Grant available per student was estimated to cover one-third of the yearly cost of college education at a public four-year school. Twenty years ago, the maximum grant paid 60% of the cost of four years of college. The maximum grant for the 2010-2011 school year is $5,550, accounting for the largest increase in the program history since its inception 30 years ago.


Because of the additional cut to the educational system by our elected officials, expect the Pell Grant to remain the same or even be cut in the future.