What is a Pell Grant?

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A Pell Grant is a type of financial aid that can help pay for tuition, fees or other educational expenses. Pell Grants do not have to be repaid.

How do I apply for a Pell Grant?

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To apply for a Pell Grant you will need to fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). If you meet the eligibility requirements you will get a Pell Grant as a part of your financial aid package.

Who is eligible for a Pell Grant?

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To get a Pell Grant, you must:
  • Demonstrate financial need by submitting a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
  • Be a U.S.citizen, U.S. national or eligible noncitizen
  • Have a valid Social Security Number
  • Have a high school diploma or General Education Development (GED) certificate OR demonstrate “ability to benefit” by passing an approved test
  • Meet satisfactory academic progress
  • Be enrolled in an eligible post-secondary school
  • Be working toward a first undergraduate degree or teaching credential
  • Certify that the funds will be used only for educational purposes, and
  • Be registered with the Selective Service if you are a male between the ages of 18 and 25.

What does a Pell Grant provide and how long will it last?

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A Pell Grant provides financial aid that can be used for tuition, fees and educational expenses. There is no limit on the number of Pell Grants you can get as long as you continue to meet the eligibility requirements. Pell Grants range from $605 to $5,645 in the 2014-2015 academic year (July 1, 2014 - June 30, 2015).

What can I use a Pell Grant for?

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Pell Grants can be used for tuition, fees, or other educational expenses.

Are there any medical eligibility requirements to get a Pell Grant?

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No. Pell Grants are based on financial need not disability status. However, if you have special circumstances that impact your ability to contribute to your education, such as needing significant medical expenses, you may wish to check with your financial aid office to inquire whether adjustments can be made to your financial aid package. Disability related expenses can be used to lower your financial aid award.

Does what I have in the bank and/or what I own affect my eligibility for a Pell Grant?

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Yes. Pell Grant eligibility is based on financial need. Although students with family incomes up to $45,000 may be eligible, most awards go to students with family incomes below $20,000.

When can I get benefits from a Pell Grant?

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You can get your Pell Grant once you have accepted a financial aid offer from your school. Funds are usually available at the beginning of the semester or quarter.

Can I qualify for a Pell Grant while I am eligible for the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program?

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Yes. Pell Grants are not considered income or assets if used:
  • during the academic period for which it was intended; and
  • for tuition, fees, or other educational expenses.

If you plan to use your Pell Grant in the future, the Grant can only be excluded during the month that you got the grant. Thereafter, the Grant will be treated as an asset.

Can I qualify for a Pell Grant while I am eligible for the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program?

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Yes. A Pell Grant will not affect Social Security Disability Insurance eligibility because SSDI does not count income or assets.

Are there rules for immigrants to qualify for a Pell Grant?

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Yes. To qualify for a Pell Grant you must be able to live and attend school legally in the United States as a U.S. citizen, U.S. national or eligible noncitizen.

If you are an eligible noncitizen, you must be a:

How long can I continue to receive a Pell Grant?

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You can receive a Pell Grant as long as you continue to meet the eligibility requirements. However, you can only receive one award per academic year.

Can I receive a Pell Grant if I’m attending school part-time?

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Yes. You can receive a Pell Grant if you are attending school part-time, or are enrolled for less than a full academic year. However, your award may be reduced.

What documentation will I need to apply for a Pell Grant?

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To apply for a Pell Grant you will need to submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You need the following information in order to complete your FAFSA:
  • Actual or estimated tax returns;
  • W-2 Forms and other records of earnings;
  • Records of untaxed income (e.g. Social Security, CalWORKs and veteran’s benefits records)
  • Investment records;
  • Bank statements;
  • Mortgage information;
  • Business and farm records;
  • Driver’s license; and
  • Social Security Number.

For married or dependent students family financial information will be needed as well.

Are there other types of financial aid if I do not qualify for a Pell Grant?

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Yes. If you are ineligible for a Pell Grant, you may be eligible for other types of aid. You should speak with your financial aid officer for information on other types of aid. Proyecto Visión provides information on scholarships for students with disabilities.