How do I Apply for a Pell Grant?

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  • Written By: Christina Edwards
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 18 July 2019
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The Federal Pell Grant program offers need-based grants to students who are working toward a bachelor's or teaching degree. Unlike student loans, this money never has to be paid back. After you review the Pell Grant criteria, to apply for a Pell Grant, you must then fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and apply for a PIN. You and your schools of choice will then be informed of the amount of grant money for which you are eligible.

Before you apply for a Pell Grant, you should first determine your Pell Grant eligibility. Most students looking to receive these types of federal grants should be enrolled to get a bachelor's degree, but some individuals looking to obtain a teaching certificate may also be eligible. Pell Grant recipients must also be United States citizens or qualifying non-citizens who either have, or will have, a high school diploma or equivalent.

Since there is no actual Pell Grant application, prospective students must apply for a Pell Grant by filling out a FAFSA. Filling out these applications is free, and it helps determine a student's financial need, based on a number of things. You can obtain a paper FAFSA at local high schools, colleges, and many libraries, but an online application can also be filed, which may be easier for many.


The first section of the FAFSA that must be filled out when you want to apply for a Pell Grant will require you to provide the typical personal information. This includes your name, address, phone number, and Social Security number. Information about any diplomas or degrees that you have obtained may also be required.

You must then determine your dependency status, which is whether you are considered to be a dependent of your parents or other guardians. This will determine the estimated family contribution (EFC), which is the amount that the government believes your family can contribute to your education. Generally, individuals who are living separately from their guardians or those with dependents of their own are considered to be independent. Wards of the court and veterans are also considered to be independent.

You must then provide your financial information, along with your parent's information, if applicable. This can include any sources of income, bank accounts, and investments. This information is used to determine your financial need.

After all parts of the FAFSA are correctly filled out, it must then be signed and sent before the deadline. Paper applications must include your signature. If you are filling out an application online, you will most likely need to sign up for a PIN, which will allow you to electronically sign your FAFSA, log into your account, make changes, and view your Student Aid Report (SAR).

The amount of money available to you after you apply for a Pell Grant can vary greatly, depending on a number of things, including your financial information, dependency status, and the cost of your schooling. This amount can be used to pay for tuition, room and board, books, and supplies. It will either be applied directly to your bill at the institution that you attend, or you can also have a check mailed directly to you.



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