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Everything You Need to Know About the Pell Grant

Last updated January 3, 2024

Searching for money for college can be overwhelming, but believe it or not some grants may already have your name on it (after a little work done by you of course)! Many students are surprised to learn they are eligible to receive the Pell Grant simply by completing their FAFSA. Here’s all you need to know about the Federal Pell Grant and how to determine if you’re eligible.

A young woman wearing a head scarf looks at her phone. Behind her is a purple NYU banner - Everything You Need to Know About the Pell Grant

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What is a Pell Grant?

The Pell Grant is federal financial aid that is provided to students who have a significant financial need, often called “need-based financial aid”. Unlike loans, grant funds like the Pell Grant do not have to be paid back. After completing the FAFSA, eligible students are automatically awarded these funds based on meeting a series of eligibility criteria.

How much $$ is offered?

Many factors, like your Student Aid Index (SAI), status as a full-time or part-time student, and cost of attendance at the school you plan to attend all play a role in how much Pell Grant funds may be awarded. Since these factors can change over time while in college, Pell Grant amounts can vary each year. For the 2023-2024 award year, the maximum Federal Pell Grant is $7,395. Even though this is the maximum award, some students are eligible to receive up to 150% of their Pell Grant scheduled award. If you qualify for more funds, your school can help you determine how much and how it will be disbursed based on the award schedule.

Am I eligible for a Pell Grant?

To determine if you are Pell eligible, the first and only step is completing the FAFSA. This will give the colleges that you are applying to all the info they need to determine your eligibility. To estimate how much you may receive, you can also use the 2022-2023 Pell Grant Payment Schedule using the Cost of Attendance (COA) of the college you are interested in and your Student Aid Index (SAI)  from your FAFSA Submission Summary. It’s important to note, in order to maintain your eligibility for your Pell Grant you must renew your FAFSA every year, maintain your grades and student status (part–time versus full-time) and be an undergraduate student.

How do I apply for a Pell Grant?

You don't actually have to apply for the Pell Grant! By completing your FAFSA you have completed the necessary requirement to be considered for  the Pell Grant. Once it has been determined that you are eligible, you will receive the funds automatically. The Pell Grant will cover unmet costs like tuition and if there are additional Pell Grant funds leftover, those remaining funds are disbursed to you directly for expenses like housing, books, supplies, and personal items.

So it’s simple! Apply for financial aid early and when those award letters start rolling in, look to see if the Pell Grant is supporting you for paying for college. Text #FAFSA to 33-55-77 to chat with one of our advisors. If you're using a mobile device, click here to have the text message set up for you!

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