Federal Pell Grant

What is a Federal Pell Grant? A Federal Pell Grant is a direct money award from the United States government given to college students through participating educational institutions. In order to qualify for a Federal Pell Grant, students must demonstrate financial need and must not have already received their first bachelor's degree. Students who are enrolled in certain post baccalaureate programs leading to teacher certification or licensure may also qualify for a Federal Pell Grant.

The purpose of the Federal Pell Grant program is to promote access to postsecondary education for low-income American citizens. With an estimated budget in 2012 of $35 billion, this program is included in the spending cut proposals of both Democrats and Republicans looking to reduce the deficit. This is unfortunate, as nearly ten million hard-working, low-income students rely on this assistance to start a career instead of working minimum wage jobs. Pell Grants are a real and positive investment in America's future and are paid back in full when these students start paying taxes from their high paying jobs later in life.

Before applying for Federal Pell Grant money, a student should verify the school they want to attend is a participant in the Federal Pell Grant program. College students may not receive Pell Grants from more than one school at a time.

The amount a Federal Pell Grant awards to an individual student is dependent on the student's financial need and is determined by a formula used by the U.S. Department of Education. The formula includes factors such as the student's expected family contribution, the cost of attendance at the school, whether the student is full-time or part-time, and whether the student attends for the entire academic year or less than a year. The only exception is that sons and daughters of military personnel that died after 9/11/01 are awarded the maximum amount if eligible.

Pell Grant Facts & Figures

Fiscal YearFederal FundingGrant Money Available# of Expected AwardsAverage AwardAward Range
2010 Pell Grants$21.8 billion$32.3 billion8,355,000$3,865$555 to $5,550
2009 Pell Grants$36.5 billion1$25.3 billion7,022,000$3,611$486 to $5,350
2008 Pell Grants$16.3 billion$16.4 billion5,578,000$2,945$400 to $4,731
2007 Pell Grants$13.7 billion$14.0 billion5,339,000$2,620$400 to $4,310
Note: All figures are approximate and apply to new Pell Grants, not including recurring awards that began in previous years.
1. Includes the $17.1 billion from the Recovery Act (commonly known as the Obama Stimulus Package).


Pell Grant Schools

School NameLocationSchool TypePell Grant Money# of Grants
University of PhoenixArizonaFor-Profit$1,117,230,538.36275416
Ashford UniversityIowaFor-Profit$278,103,712.2176257
Devry UniversityIllinoisFor-Profit$264,812,025.0069692
Kaplan UniversityIowaFor-Profit$219,645,322.5054799
Baker CollegeMichiganPrivate$107,807,910.0034953
Colorado Technical UniversityColoradoFor-Profit$103,082,485.5432548
Strayer UniversityWashington D.C.For-Profit$100,367,036.9634343
American Intercontinental UniversityIllinoisFor-Profit$97,635,871.7726037
Miami Dade CollegeFloridaPublic$97,376,180.0025226
Arizona State UniversityArizonaPublic$92,772,056.0023340
Houston Community CollegeTexasPublic$88,280,352.0028468
Virginia CollegeAlabamaFor-Profit$85,717,662.9221867
Pennsylvania State UniversityPennsylvaniaPublic$84,382,179.0023178
Broward CollegeFloridaPublic$83,307,816.3525795
Liberty UniversityVirginiaPrivate$81,286,105.8022509
Grand Canyon UniversityArizonaFor-Profit$78,872,908.2520795
South UniversityGeorgiaFor-Profit$75,857,233.1627563
Kent State UniversityOhioPublic$73,512,045.0018702
Instituto de Banca y ComercioPuerto RicoFor-Profit$72,746,256.8316441
Valencia Community CollegeFloridaPublic$72,303,582.4022763
Top 20 colleges by total Pell Grant money awarded during 2010-2011 school year. Source: U.S. Department of Education.


After a student files a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), the student will receive a SAR (Student Aid Report) or the school will receive an ISIR (Institutional Student Information Record). The ISIR will notify the student if he or she is eligible for a Pell Grant and will state the student's estimated family contribution toward his education, and the amount of the Pell Grant, if any.

To find out more about Federal Pell Grants visit the official U.S. Department of Education program website. For details on non-Pell college grants, visit Federal Grants for College. Feel free to browse other available educational grants in our listing of Department of Education Grants here at FederalGrants.com.


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