The Federal Pell Grant Eligibility Requirements

The Pell Grant eligibility requirements cover the essentials of what it takes to become eligible for the Pell Grant. Before you start to go over all of these to determine your federal Pell Grant eligibility, it is important to first have a general understanding of what a Pell Grant is, and how new regulations for the 2010-11 school year have made it even more beneficial for students.

What Is A Pell Grant?

The Pell Grant is a federal grant that is approved on an annual basis to mostly undergraduate students who demonstrate a significant financial need for money to attend a postsecondary institution. It was designed to benefit students that come from lower-income families the most, and therefore being able to exhibit the appropriate financial need is the most important factor you need to be aware of if you want to become eligible, and get approved for the highest amount of aid possible.

If you are a student, and therefore a prospective Pell Grant applicant, you should be happy to hear that the maximum Pell Grant amount has actually been increased for the 2010-11 school year to 5,500 dollars, compared to 5,350 dollars for the previous year. Other new regulations have also been rolled out in an effort to make the grant even better for eligible students. Some of the major ones include a no minimum enrollment hour requirement, a higher income allowance for the maximum award, and an expansion that makes all semesters from around the year eligible; fall, winter, and summer.

Understanding the Pell Grant Eligibility Requirements

Now that you have a crude understanding of what a Pell Grant is, and how new regulations have made it an even better form of aid for the 2010-11 school year, it is now crucial that you learn about how to become eligible for the Pell Grant. More specifically, you need to understand that there are two branches of Pell Grant requirements that will allow you to become eligible for the Pell Grant, and you need to satisfy each branch if you want gain a positive eligibility status for the Pell.

The first branch is a list of Pell Grant qualifications that you need to run through in order to make sure that you pass each one. Remember that you need to be able to answer appropriately when the accompanying item is applicable, and not doing so will typically result in a negative eligibility status for the Pell. The good news is that there aren’t that many of these, and it doesn’t take that long to go over this list to see where you stand. The following is a list of the major federal Pell Grant requirements.

-Before you do anything, you must realize that your United States citizenship is a must, and you must therefore be a U.S. citizen to become eligible for the Pell Grant. If you aren’t a U.S. citizen you must either be an eligible non-citizen and be able to show the appropriate documentation, or be a U.S. national.

-When you fill out your FAFSA application you must be able to have a valid social security number.

-It is critical that you enroll with the Selective Service if you are a male between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five.

-The Pell Grant is designed for students attending post-secondary institutions, and you therefore must have a high school diploma, GED, or be able to show proof that you passed what is known as an “ability to pass” test.

-Two of the major disqualifiers are if you have served jail-time in the past, or if you have a drug-related offense on your record. Each of these however don’t necessarily have to serve as absolute disqualifiers, as this will depend on your specific circumstances that surrounded your violations.

-Your experience with federal aid in the past is taken into consideration, and if you have defaulted on a previous form of federal aid, or have a Pell overpayment on your record, then you may not be able to qualify for the Pell Grant.

-The Pell Grant was designed for students who exhibit a significant need for aid to attend school, and you therefore will not qualify if you are on a full scholarship of any kind.

-The school you are attending must be participating in the Pell Grant program, and the actual program of study you are enrolled in must be a degree-oriented curriculum.

-You should be working towards your first bachelor’s degree due to the fact that most graduate programs don’t qualify for the Pell, although certain professional degree-oriented graduate programs do qualify, such as pharmacy.

-You should be making satisfactory academic progress as defined by your school.

This has been a listing of the major federal Pell Grant eligibility requirements that fall into the first branch of qualifications to become eligible for the Pell Grant. Once you have gone over this list and have passed each one, it is then time to move on to the next branch of requirements that you must become aware of if you want to find out your eligibility for the Pell Grant.

EFC: Expected Family Contribution

The next branch of requirements actually consists of only one major qualification that you need to worry about, and by satisfying this requirement in combination with the aforementioned list you will then become eligible for the Pell. This requirement has to do with a determining of your financial need for the proceeds of the Pell Grant, and the way this is done is by a calculation of your EFC, or expected family contribution. The EFC is supposed to be a direct indicator of the amount of money your family is able to put towards your education-related expenses, and by taking into account a number of relevant factors, a formula is used to produce your final EFC metric.

Once your EFC is formulated, you then simply need to compare it to the maximum EFC that is permitted for a student to receive aid from the Pell Grant for that school year. This value is set at 4,617 for 2010-11, and as long as your EFC is below this figure you should be able to become eligible for the Pell as long as you satisfied the aforementioned list that was included. The factors that determine your EFC include your parents’ income (and assets if you are a dependent), your income (and assets if you are an independent), the size of your family, and the number of family members who are currently enrolled in postsecondary institutions. Other factors that also play a role include whether or not both your parents work, how old your parents are, and whether or not your family has paid their income taxes so that they are up to date.

In The End

The information that determines your EFC is collected when you fill out your Pell Grant application. The FAFSA, or free application for student aid is the federal Pell Grant application you need to fill out, and by completing one in the appropriate fashion you will have made yourself a contender to receive Pell Grant aid. Your EFC, and eligibility status for the Pell Grant will then be reported to you from within your SAR, or Student Aid Report. The SAR contains a variety of important information that you provided when you filled out your FAFSA, and it should state explicitly both your federal Pell Grant eligibility, and your EFC value. Keep in mind that just because you become eligible for the Pell Grant doesn’t mean that you will receive the full amount, and most students receive only about half of the full Pell grant amount on average.

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