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What Is a Pell Grant?

May 04, 2020 by Karen Grossman |

GettyImages-469294538-01When figuring out how to pay for college, grants are a good option. Unlike loans, they don’t need to be repaid, as long as you remain eligible.

A Federal Pell Grant is a need-based grant that provides funds to low-income undergraduate students. Students cannot have a prior bachelor’s degree, and eligibility is limited to a maximum of 12 full-time semesters.

How Do You Know If You Qualify?
The first step to determine eligibility is to complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The maximum Pell Grant award for 2020–21, which is from July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021, is $6,345, and that amount can vary each year.

The amount a student can receive depends on several factors:

  • Expected Family Contribution (estimate of your family’s contribution to your education, determined by your family’s income and assets)
  • cost of attendance (amount set by your school)
  • enrollment status (full-time or part-time)

Pell-eligible students may qualify for the maximum award if a parent or guardian died as a result of military service in Iraq or Afghanistan after Sept. 11, 2001.

Online students may also qualify. “Students in online programs may be eligible if they are seeking their first bachelor’s degree and meet all other eligibility requirements,” says Debra Slade, Assistant Director for Outreach for Financial Aid. “This is determined by completing the FAFSA and meeting the university academic standards.”

Year-Round Pell
Students who enroll year-round may be eligible for 150 percent of their award that year if they are enrolled at least half-time for their additional term. So a student who is enrolled full-time for both fall and spring semesters may receive an award during those terms and be eligible to receive additional funds during Summer Session.

Commitment to Student Success
Recent rankings show UNC Greensboro’s focus on helping students succeed. U.S. News & World Report ranked UNC Greensboro No. 1 in North Carolina and No. 27 nationally for social mobility, a new category highlighting institutions that are successful in enrolling and graduating students who are Pell Grant recipients.

That’s good news for UNCG students. Economically disadvantaged students are less likely to finish college than their peers, and a majority of Pell Grants are awarded to students with adjusted gross family incomes of less than $50,000. UNCG is one of five universities nationwide with more than 50 percent Pell-eligible students and a graduation rate greater than 50 percent.

UNCG also scored high in social mobility in Washington Monthly's rankings, and was recognized for affordability and high graduation rates among Pell Grant recipients.

For more information, contact the Financial Aid Office.


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