The process of determining eligibility for a Pell grant is a multi-faceted one. As a future student seeking financial aid, you may be asking the question, "Am I eligible for a Pell grant?" and assuredly answer "Yes", and then find that the answer is "No". It is important to note that this is because several factors are taken into consideration when the Department of Education decides who is eligible for a Pell grant and who is not. With limited funds in this federal grant program, it is important to understand the reasons why you may be denied for this form of aid and also understand what you need to do before you will receive it.
Eligibility Requirement 1: Fill Out The FAFSA
Eligibility for any federal aid, including the Pell grant, is determined via the Federal Application For Student Aid (FAFSA). This document uses tax information to assess what your estimated family contribution (EFC) toward your education will be and how much money you have coming into your family. If you have not filled out the FAFSA or do not do so annually, this means you are automatically excluded from the Pell grant eligibility pool and will be unable to get the grant for that academic year. Make sure that if you are interested in receiving this aid, that you go to www.fafsa.ed.gov in order to complete this form. There is no cost to do so, and it is usually a very quick process if you have the information required readily available to you.
Eligibility Requirement 2: Must Be In A Qualifying Program
Not every student is eligible to receive a Pell grant, even if the financial need is there. You must remember that the program for which you are entering school must be what is called a degree seeking program. You must, in essence, be in a program that will lead to a certification, diploma, or degree of some kind. You cannot simply be taking classes just to take classes but must have a certification goal in mind. To better know if you meet this criterion, contact the school for which you are interested in attending and talk to a financial aid counselor within that institution. This will allow you to determine whether or not you may be eligible for this aid.
Eligibility Requirement 3: Must Be An Undergraduate
It is important to remember that not every student looking to further his or her education will be eligible for a Pell grant. Pell grants are reserved only for undergraduate students; so be aware of this requirement. If you are looking to finance a post-graduate degree, such as doctorate, you may have to travel down different financial avenues. That does not mean grants may not be available to you; it simply means that the grant you receive will not be a Pell grant as only undergraduate students can receive it.
Eligibility Requirement 4: Citizenship
There is also a citizenship requirement for receiving the Pell grant. The applicant has to be a U.S. citizen or a non-U.S. citizen who is eligible. An eligible non-U.S. citizen is an individual who qualifies into a subcategory of country of origin. This includes a naturalized citizen, a person permanently resident in the U.S., and those here in this country who are seeking asylum. Other exceptions to this list do exist; so it is important to understand your citizenship eligibility status by traveling, once again, to www.fafsa.ed.gov to find out.
Conclusion: Pell Grant Eligibility
Pell grant eligibility requirements include many factors, as aforementioned. Am I eligible for a Pell grant? It is not always easy to answer or understand. If you have any questions regarding your eligibility, reach out and contact the institution through which one is seeking aid. They will be able to help guide you through the process and help you to understand why you did or did not receive the Pell grant.