Pell Grants

The most common form of federal grant money is the Pell Grant. This is federal money that you do not have to pay back as long as you stay in school. Of course, not just everyone is eligible for the grant.

When filling out your Pell Grant application, you will get back an EFC, which stands for Expected Family Contribution. This is a calculation that the government makes based on your answers in the FAFSA. This number is given to your school of choice and they will calculate a financial aid package for you.


The maximum amount for the grant in the upcoming 2010-2011 school year is also going to be frozen at $5550.

The maximum amount for the Pell Grant for the 2009-2010 school was announced by Congress in January. The maximum Pell is going to stay at the same level as 2008-2009 at $5350. To be eligible for the grant, your EFC must be under 4350 once again.

You can read more about the Pell Grant application at the official website. Once your school sends you your financial aid award letter, you will probably be expecting a Pell Grant Disbursement and this will come from the financial aid office at the school.

Please keep in mind that just because your EFC is under $4350, does not mean you will get the maximum grant. Please see our EFC page for more information regarding the EFC.

Current Pell Grants

2011-2012 Pell Grant awards are expected to be the highest in its program history! These federal grants are highly coveted, because they are free money! The only problem is that not every student is eligible to receive one. Pell Grants are not based on your grades; they are only based on your family’s income.

Remember, the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is the magic number, and it cannot be over $4,350. If your EFC is “0,” then you might be able to get the maximum Pell Grant amount of $5,550. You only get this much money if you choose to enroll in college fulltime and if the cost of attendance is at least $5,550.

If you have an EFC of “0” and only enroll in school half time, you can get up to $2,775. If your family is expected to contribute up to $5,273, you can probably still get a Pell Grant. You see, the amount of Pell Grant money you can receive depends on how expensive your school is, how much money you can contribute to tuition, and how many credits you plan to take.

In the past, students used to get small Pell Grant awards – perhaps $400 at the most. Now, the minimum amount you can get is $555. Most students get about $3,770 if they get the grant at all. Good news – the Pell Grant program has recently expanded the criteria it uses for applicant eligibility. This means that more students than ever before can take advantage of the Pell Grant. Even better, the award amounts are expected to rise each year as the cost of tuition also rises.

Over the next 10 years, the federal government is planning to spend over $374 billion on Pell Grants alone. That’s a lot of free money for needy students!