How Much Can You Get from Pell Grant?

If you have done your research on financial aid, the program "Pell Grant" has probably come up a few times. This a financial aid opportunity for low income students with a high financial need. In most cases, students are not eligible to receive a Pell Grant while dependent on parents, because the restrictions on income is very strict. However, at the age of 24, students become independent and can typically qualify for a federal Pell Grant if they make little to no income. On many occasions, comments and visitors have asked how much one student can receive from Pell Grant. While the number fluctuates, it's typically over $2,000 a semester if you're eligible. There are also multiple determining factors to consider.

Are You Eligible?

It's not only your income that will define whether or not you can receive a Pell Grant. Students must be enrolled in a course of study that will grant them a bachelor's degree or certification, meaning graduate students are not eligible, unless you are going to school for a teaching certification. Full-time and part-time students are also eligible for Pell Grants, but full-time students get more money. A new rule was added in 2008 that stated students can only receive aid for a maximum of 18 semesters from Pell Grant.

Different Award Packages

Every year, there are different maximum award limits placed on Pell Grants. For example, the maximum you could receive in the 2010 to 2011 school year was $5,550. If you went to school for each semester in the year and you were full-time, you could earn up to $11,110 in aid. If you have a parent who died while on active duty in Iraq or Afghanistan, you are eligible to receive the full amount of the Pell Grant. However, other students need to be attending for the full 12 credits each semester and demonstrate extreme financial need in order to qualify. The total expenses for your courses and eligibility will determine how much you receive.

Government Payments

You also don't directly receive money from Pell Grant. Your financial aid award letter will be sent from the school detailing whether or not you received a Pell Grant and for how much. The government then sends a check to the school, which deducts your tuition and fees. From this, you receive the rest, usually after the second week of school or drop/add period. This is to ensure that you don't drop to half-time or less than half-time, thus changing the amount of eligible aid. Your funds will be mailed in a check, or if your school has a direct payment option, they will be deposited directly into your bank account.

Things to Consider

To maximize your eligibility, you should have very little savings. If you are under the age of 24, you are still considered a dependent of your parents, so they also need to have very little savings. Assets also must be limited. There are various ways that you can optimize eligibility, either by transferring funds to grandparent's accounts or selling off different assets. However, you may also want to look into other aid programs and scholarships through your school if your financial aid award is too low. has a dedicated updated blog that provides you with all sorts of information on upcoming scholarships, including deadlines and tips to win the award.