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Federal Pell Grant Program

Program Descriptions

Program Number



Federal Pell Grant Program


Federal Agency




Higher Education Act of 1965, Title IV, Part A, Subpart 1, as amended.






To provide eligible undergraduate postsecondary students who have demonstrated financial need with grant assistance to help meet educational expenses.


Types of Assistance

Direct Payments for Specified Use.


Uses and Use Restrictions

The student must be a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen who has been accepted for enrollment in, and is making satisfactory academic progress at an eligible institution of higher education. Eligible schools may be public or private nonprofit institutions of higher education, (such as colleges, universities, vocational-technical schools, hospital schools of nursing), and for- profit institutions (proprietary). Eligible males who are at least 18 years or older and born after December 31, 1959, can receive aid only if they have registered with the Selective Service. Graduate students and students who have already earned a bachelor's degree are not eligible for assistance, except those enrolled in an eligible program leading to a professional certification in teaching. Applicants must demonstrate need according to Part F of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended.


Eligibility Requirements

Applicant Eligibility

Undergraduate students and students pursuing a teaching certificate enrolled as regular students in an eligible program at an eligible institution of higher education and making satisfactory academic progress. The applicants must be U.S. citizens or eligible noncitizens and have a high school diploma, a GED, or demonstrate the ability to benefit from the program offered.

Beneficiary Eligibility

Undergraduate students and students pursuing a teaching certificate that are U.S. citizens or eligible noncitizens and meet financial need criteria. Students must be: regular students in an eligible program and enrolled in institutions of higher education, making satisfactory academic progress. Incarcerated students, except those incarcerated in local penal facilities, are ineligible. Students must sign a statement of educational purpose, not owe a refund on a Title IV grant, and not be in default on a Title IV loan. Eligible males that are at least 18 years old and born after December 31, 1959, can receive aid only if they have registered with the Selective Service.


This program is excluded from coverage under OMB Circular No. A-87.


Application and Award Process

Preapplication Coordination

This program is excluded from coverage under E.O. 12372. This program is excluded from coverage under OMB Circular No. A-102.

Application Procedure

Student completes a "Free Application for Federal Student Aid" and submits it to the agency specified on the form. Students may apply using a paper application, an electronic application, or via the Internet. The U.S. Department of Education calculates the student's financial eligibility for assistance and the agency to which the student sent the application returns a notification to the student of his or her eligibility for assistance. The student submits this notification to the institution of his or her choice in order to have his or her award calculated. This program is excluded from coverage under OMB Circular No. A-110.

Award Procedure

Institutions act as disbursing agents for the Department of Education. The institution that the student attends calculates and disburses the Federal Pell Grant, using a payment schedule developed by the Department of Education that determines the amount of the award based on the student's expected family contribution, cost of attendance, and enrollment status.


Contact the program office for deadlines.

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time

Approximately 2 to 4 weeks.


An institution, on the basis of supplemental documentation, may rule that an applicant is self-supporting, even though under the standard criteria, the applicant would normally be considered financially dependent on his or her parents. An institution may adjust on a case-by-case basis a student's data elements used to calculate his or her EFC and cost of attendance due to unusual circumstances documented by the institution.



Assistance Considerations

Formula and Matching Requirements

Federal Pell Grant eligibility determinations are based on Part F of the HEA, as amended. This national need analysis formula determines financial eligibility for Federal Pell grants and other Federal student aid and is applied uniformly to all applicants. This formula determines a student's "expected family contribution" (EFC). The fundamental elements of this need analysis formula are the parents' and/or the student's income and assets (excluding home), the family's household size, and the number of family members attending postsecondary institutions. The EFC is determined as the sum of: (1) A percentage assessment of net income (remaining income after subtracting allowances for basic living expenses) and (2) a percentage assessment of net assets, other than a home, (remaining assets after subtracting an asset protection allowance).

Length and Time Phasing of Assistance

Students are currently limited to one Federal Pell Grant during any award year (July 1 through June 30). There is no funding for students to receive a second Federal Pell Grant during a single award year. Funds for one Federal Pell Grant are usually disbursed at least twice during an award year. Students may only receive a Federal Pell Grant until they have received a bachelor's degree.


Post Assistance Requirements


Institutions will be required to furnish reports, periodically, on the disbursement of funds, as well as to furnish any other reports the Secretary requires. No reports are required of students.


Annual audits will be made.


All records pertaining to the eligibility of each Federal Pell Grant recipient and all fiscal management records must be maintained by the institutions for a period of 3 years or until an acceptable audit has been completed, whichever is later. Selected students will have the information on their applications verified.


Financial Information

Account Identification



(Grants) FY 07 $13,660,771,000; FY 08 est $16,256,000,000; and FY 09 est $18,941,059,000.

Range and Average of Financial Assistance

For FY 2008, grants will range from $400 to $4,731; the average grant is expected to be aboout $2,945.


Program Accomplishments

In FY 2008, approximately 5,600,000 recipients are expected.


Regulations, Guidelines and Literature

The Federal Pell Grant Expected Family Contribution formula is set forth in Part F of the Higher Education Act of 1965 as amended. Regulations governing administration of the Pell Grant Program are found in 34 CFR 600, 668, and 690. The Student Guide; Free Application for Federal Student Aid (no charge); "The Expected Family Contribution Formula"; "The Student Financial Aid Handbook."


Information Contacts

Regional or Local Office

Federal Student Aid Information Center. Telephone: (1-800) 433-3243. Regional Director, Federal Student Aid, the Director of Student Financial Aid at the institution the student wishes to attend, high school guidance counselors, or directors of State agencies.

Headquarters Office

Office of Postsecondary Education, Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, DC 20202. Telephone: (800) 433-3243.

Web Site Address


Related Programs

64.117, Survivors And Dependents Educational Assistance
84.007, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants
84.032, Federal Family Education Loans
84.033, Federal Work-Study Program
84.037, Perkins Loan Cancellations
84.038, Federal Perkins Loan Program-Federal Capital Contributions
84.042, Trio-Student Support Services
84.044, Trio-Talent Search
84.047, Trio-Upward Bound
84.066, Trio-Educational Opportunity Centers
84.069, Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership


Examples of Funded Projects



Criteria for Selecting Proposals

The Expected Family Contribution formula is set forth in Part F of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended.


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