What Are the Eligibility Requirements for a Pell Grant?


Quick Answer

To be eligible to receive a Pell grant, vocational and undergraduate students must be accepted for enrollment or enrolled in a program for a recognized educational credential at a participating postsecondary institution, states the U.S. Department of Education. Applicants must also meet all the general eligibility criteria for federal aid.

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Full Answer

Federal Pell grants are generally awarded to undergraduates who do not yet have degrees, although they are sometimes given to students with bachelor's degrees who are taking part in teacher certification programs, according to Federal Student Aid. Prisoners in state and federal penal institutions and sex offenders sentenced to community service are ineligible for Pell grants. To obtain a Pell grant, students must fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

Federal student aid eligibility is not affected by race, age or field of study, reports Federal Student Aid. Students must first obtain a General Education Development certificate, high school diploma or high school equivalency with passing grades. They must also have a valid Social Security number, and males must be registered with the U.S. Selective Service. Applicants must be U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals or permanent resident aliens. Exceptions are made for aliens who are official refugees or battered immigrants or have been granted asylum.

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