Federal Pell Grants

Federal Pell Grants are free grants for college students who qualify for assistance. Learn about the Pell Grant requirements, as you might be eligible. A Pell Grant never has to be repaid, so is truly free money for college. Starting in 2024-25, there are some major changes to this program.

Last updated on July 17, 2024 by College Financial Aid Advice.

Federal Pell Grant for College Students

Federal Pell Grants

Princeton University

If you are looking for free money for college, it is hard to beat a federal Pell Grant. All students who are interested in free grants for college should submit a FAFSA, which serves as the free grant application. Awards are made students based upon financial need. You will be notified of your Pell Grant award, if any, as part of your financial aid package.

Federal Pell grants for college students average around $2500 per year, and will be reduced if you reduce your units below 12 units, which is considered full-time. You also must make satisfactory academic progress to remain eligible for your grant.

For 2024 - 2025, the federal Pell Grant maximum award is $7395. Students are limited to only 12 semesters, and some awards will be less than prior years. You may also be able to get a "year-round Pell" if you also attend summer school.

Max and Min Pell Grant Awards

The Scheduled Pell Award is the maximum amount a college student can receive during the award year if the student attends full-time for a full academic year. Full-time is considered 12 or more units.

Starting in 2024-25 academic year, the Pell Grant Award for each student is calculated as follows.

1. Max Pell - Start with the automatic Maximum Pell Grant Award.

2. Subtract SAI - Subtract the student’s Student Aid Index (SAI) from the Annual Max Pell.


3.Min Pell - The award will amount won't be lower than the Minimum Pell Grant Award.

Here is an example, which assumes the Max Pell is $7400 and the Min Pell in $700. You can obtain your estimated Pell Grant from your FAFSA Submission Summary form.

Example Student Max Pell SAI Max Pell - SAI Min Pell Scheduled Pell Award
Jose $7400 $300 $7100 $740 $7100
Michelle $7400 $3400 $4000 $740 $4000
Raj $7400 $7000 $400 $740 $0

Enrollment Intensity

The actual award cannot exceed the Cost of Attendance (COA), and will also be reduced if the student is not attending full time, based upon the number of actual units, or Enrollment Intensity. So whenever possible, you want to attend full time to get the maximum Pell Grant award, and to graduate from college sooner!

Here is an example of how the Pell Grant amount is reduced based upon Enrollment Intensity.

Credit Hours Enrollment Intensity
12 or more 100%
11 92%
10 83%
9 75%
8 67%
7 58%
6 50%
5 42%
4 33%
3 25%
2 17%
1 8%

Other Benefits for Pell Grant Recipients

Many recipients are also eligible for some scholarships such as Bill Gates Scholarships for Minorities.

Recipients are also eligible for other grants for college students that may be awarded based upon their FAFSA financial need, and outside scholarships making college much more affordable. Scholarships and Grants

Pell Grant Requirements

To be eligbile for a federal Pell Grant, you must meet certain minimum requirements. For a list of the requirements, see Pell Grant Requirements.

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