Pell Grant FAQ

The Pell Grant Program is a program that offers grants to low-income college who meet the eligibility requirements for financial need. It is sponsored by the United States Department of Education.

1. What is the history and purpose of the Pell Grant?


The Pell Grant is sponsored by the United States Department of Education, and was named after Senator Claiborne Pell. Pell Grant rules and restrictions for this program are dictated by 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 to some graduate, students in certain programs. Students can use their grants in approximately 5,400 colleges and universities in the United States.

2. How do I know if I am eligible for a Pell Grant?

Like many other federally funded grants and scholarships, eligibility for this program is determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). After a student and his/her family completes the online FAFSA form, the student will be notified of eligibility. This eligibility is based on family income and other facts like family size, the price of attendance at the college of choice, and whether the student will be a full-time or part-time student.

3. How can I apply for a Pell Grant?

A student may apply for a Federal Pell Grant by completing a FAFSA Application. If you wish to use a hard copy form, you can obtain a FAFSA booklet from your high school counselor, at your local library or through a local college administration office. You can also write to:

Pell Grant, Box 84
Washington D.C. 20044

or call (800) 433-3243.

You should note that most schools prefer that a student file their FAFSA form through the online link to speed the application process. The FAFSA must be submitted by the end of June in the year for which the student wishes to be considered for Pell Grant aid, e.g. in June of 2010, for the September, 2010 fall and winter semesters.

4. How much money can I get through Pell Grant program?

The maximum Pell Grant award per student will increase to $5,500 in 2010, and by $200 per year each year until 2012. It is estimated that the maximum award will cover 75% of tuition in a public four-year college. The average award will cover approximately 42% of these fees. Currently there is no restriction on the number of years a student may receive Pell Grant, provided the student maintains a degree program as an undergraduate and does not already have an undergraduate degree.

5. How do I know if I am going to receive a Pell Grant award?

You can track the progress of your student FAFSA application by calling the Federal Student Aid Information Center at (800) 433-3243 between 9 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time), Monday through Friday, or by checking your online account here: FAFSA online.

6. If I get a Pell Grant, how is it disbursed to me or to my school?

You will receive your Pell Grant payment in one of several ways: your school can credit Pell Grant payments to your account, you may receive a check, or the payment may be made by paying part to the school and part to the student. Your college will notify you in writing of the amount of the Pell Grant, and tell you how and when payments will be made. Schools must credit your account at least once per term.