If you wish to know if you’re eligible for a Pell Grant, it is imperative that you complete a Free Application for Federal Aid (FAFSA) form, which you can find at the FAFSA website and then following the instructions stated in the “Fill out a FAFSA” section.
What happens is that during the completion of the application, among other questions, you will also answer the ones that state your eligibility for the Pell Grant. This means that after completing the FAFSA application, you just need to wait for the usual emails or regular postal mail to know if you received a Pell Grant.
In general, eligibility is based on few criteria, and you are eligible if you’re in one of these categories:
- Students with a total family income up to $50,000
- Most funds actually go to students with a total family income below $20,000
- Your must be a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, or an eligible non-citizen, i.e., U.S. permanent resident with an Alien Registration Card I-551, a conditional permanent resident with an I-551C card, possess Arrival Departure Record I-94 from the Immigration and Naturalization Service one of the following designations: asylum granted, parole, refugee, entrant from Cuba or Haiti.
- You may be eligible if you live independent of your parent or guardian, and/or if you have your own dependents.
- You must be an undergraduate student, and in some cases, a student completing your first professional degree, e.g., pharmacy or dentistry.
- You must be enrolled in a program that will lead to a certificate, diploma, or degree at any institution eligible to participate in the Pell Grant Program, and maintain satisfactory academic progress as defined by the grant program
- You must sign a statement indicating that you are not in default on a federal loan, and that the financial aid will be used only for educational purposes
- You must not have been convicted for the possession or sale of illegal drugs while receiving federal financial aid
Eligibility is determined by your EFC, which is a number you receive when completing the FAFSA application, and stands for Expected Family Contribution: this number does not refer to an amount of money, and the lower it is, the better (actually, the best score you can get is zero).