Are you eligible for a Pell Grant? Pell Grants are need-based awards of government money for education. They are different from government student loans because they are essentially free money: you never have to repay them! Another big plus is that you don't have to compete for Pell Grants – if you qualify based on the questions below, you get one.
Take our quiz to find out fast if you are eligible for a Pell Grant and learn how to apply for free:
Just answer Yes or No to the following six questions:
1. Are you an undergraduate student?
2. Is your family considered “low-income,” or are they putting several brothers and sisters through college at this time? (Note: it doesn’t matter if you're independent, file your own taxes, or get no help from your family. Until you're 24, whether it’s fair or not, the government assumes that your family can and will contribute to your education if they have the funds.)
3. Are you a U.S. citizen?
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4. Have you filled out and submitted your FAFSA application?
5. If male, are you registered with the Selective Service?
6. Are you already receiving a Pell Grant?
If you can answer “Yes” to the first five questions, and “No” to the last (you can only have one Pell Grant at a time), then you may be eligible and you should check out our Pell Grants page. In fact if you answered yes to question #4, you have already automatically applied—but the rest of the quiz will tell you if you even have a chance to win a Pell Grant.
To investigate Scholarships, look at Scholarship Information and—for those who may not be at the top of their class—some very interesting Scholarship Contests that do not require a specific grade point average.
Pell Grants for Prisoners? President Obama has proposed making those incarcerated eligible for Pell Grants. The plan calls for a 3-5 year “test” to see if recidivism decreases as a result. The plan has drawn praise from some and criticism from others – including families borrowing heavily to put their kids through school. Regardless of objections from some in Congress their approval may not be necessary. Since the plan is termed as a test, or experiment, they could enact the plan by simply waiving the current ban, thereby bypassing Congress.
News update on Pell Grant award limits: Changes to Pell Grant award legislation increased the current maximum award level to $5775. There is still an overall limit to the amount of Pell Grant awards you can receive in your lifetime. That limit has been set at the “equivalent” of 12 semesters of awards.
To calculate what your equivalent receipt of awards is, you need to determine what portion of any given academic year you were actually enrolled. So, if you were scheduled to receive the maximum award of $5775 in a given year, but you were only actually enrolled for half a year, your amount of the award used would be calculated at one-half times 100% equals 50%. If you enrolled for just one-quarter of the year you would have used 25%. Your total use to date will be calculated and capped at 600% – or the equivalent of 6 years of full-year enrollment. If you are just now planning for college, this should still appear to be a very generous award program. If you have been receiving Pell money for some time, you may find yourself unexpectedly capped and ineligible for future awards.
Now that you know whether you are eligible - even with the changes in the program, act fast to complete and submit your FAFSA (and remember, it's free to do that!). Ongoing negotiations in Washington regarding the U.S. budget and the amount of debt our nation can reasonably sustain could impact the amount of money available to fund Pell Grants in 2014 and beyond.