DEFINITION of 'Pell Grant '

A pell grant is a program that awards money to eligible undergraduate and, in certain situations, post-baccalaureate students. Unlike other Federal financial aid, the The Federal Pell Grant Program does not need to be repaid. Pell Grants are needs-based grants that are intended to provide low-income students access to post-secondary education. Grant amounts are determined by the students' expected family contribution (EFC), the cost of attendance, whether the student is full- or part-time and whether or not the students attends a full academic year.


Students can receive Pell Grant funding from one school at a time. Higher education institutions that participate in the Federal Pell Grant Program can credit the Pell Grant to the student's school account or pay the student directly, typically by check. The school must release funds at least once per term (semester, trimester or quarter), or at least twice per school year where semester, trimester or quarterly terms are not defined.

Year-Round Pell Grants

Pell Grants are available year-round, as of July 2017. But not all colleges and universities offer Pell grants. To date, more than 5,400 participate in the program. During the academic year of 2017-2018, the maximum Pell Grant award was $5,920, an increase of over $100 from the maximum amount during the 2016-2017 award year period, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

“The return of year-round Pell marks a step forward for many students pursuing a postsecondary degree, who were limited by the current Pell Grant program. The way the Pell Grant program is currently structured doesn’t work for nontraditional students—those who may have entered the workforce and then come back to school or those who don’t take the standard full course load every semester," stated Justin Draeger, president and CEO of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) in a 2017 press release. "Under year-round Pell, students who wish to pursue their degrees throughout the year will receive financial aid when they need it, rather than having to wait until the following semester, ultimately allowing them to complete their education more quickly so they can take on less debt and enter, or re-enter, the workforce more quickly."

  1. Federal Supplemental Educational ...

    Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG) provide ...
  2. Award Letter

    Award letter is the documentation sent from a college or university ...
  3. Government Grant

    A government grant is a financial award given by the federal, ...
  4. Expected Family Contribution - ...

    Expected family contribution (EFC) is the amount of money that ...
  5. Student Debt

    Student debt refers to loans used to pay for college tuition ...
  6. Student Visa

    A student visa is a special endorsement added to a passport that ...
Related Articles
  1. Personal Finance

    How to Fund a College Education

    College is expensive. Luckily, the government, many institutions and private lenders offer ways to help students pay for college.
  2. Financial Advisor

    Presidential Candidates Respond to Student Debt Crisis

    The next President will have to deal with the student loan debt crisis or risk a stagnant economy for years to come.
  3. Personal Finance

    A quick guide of how FAFSA loans work

    If you’re headed to college and want to know how to apply for financial aid, this is where you need to start.
  4. Personal Finance

    5 College Scholarships You Could Qualify For

    Here are some scholarships that may be attainable for those of us who aren't star athletes or honors students.
  5. Personal Finance

    Who Should Pay For College?

    With college costs continuing to escalate, the question of who pays for it is increasingly relevant.
  6. Personal Finance

    How Financial Aid for College Tuition Has Changed

    Financial aid for college tuition has gone high-tech and currently favors higher-income applicants.
  7. Personal Finance

    Government Grants for Women-Owned Businesses

    Explore options for financial grants as a female business owner, and discover helpful resources for alternate ways of funding a business, including loans.
  8. Managing Wealth

    College Students are Failing Financial Literacy

    Financial trends among college students are a cause for concern, prompting a renewed emphasis on financial literacy.
  9. Personal Finance

    The Biggest College Scams Of All Time

    Some of the worst scams ever were either committed by college students or involved a post-secondary institution being duped.
  10. Personal Finance

    Fund Your Schooling with PLUS Loans

    Find out what they and are whether you're eligible to apply for these no-maximum loans.
  1. Can student loans be used to pay rent?

    In most cases, loans can be used for housing costs, but students should still plan to have some cash on hand. Read Answer >>
  2. How does Sallie Mae disburse funds?

    Understand how Sallie Mae operates as a private company and discover about the different ways in which Sallie Mae disburses ... Read Answer >>
Trading Center