What You Need to Know Before Applying for the Pell Grant in 2022

By Jon O'Donnell Updated on February 22, 2022

If you’re looking for money for college, the federal Pell Grant is probably already on your radar screen.

The Pell Grant is one of the major sources of funding for many college students. However, it’s important to make sure you apply before the deadline so you don’t miss out on your share of free money for college.

Let’s talk about what you need to know to apply for a Pell Grant for the 2022-2023 school year.

What is the Pell Grant and who is eligible?

Pell Grants are part of an aid program awarded by the federal government and U.S. Department of Education for low-income individuals. The disbursement of this grant is awarded based on students' financial need. Additionally, students need to maintain an enrollment of at least three credits per semester to receive Pell Grant funds. 

Your Pell Grant Award amount is determined by your current enrollment status and your expected family contribution. The maximum Pell Grant will be given to students with full-time enrollment (12 credit hours or higher). Half-time students or lower can still receive a smaller award. 

Even though Pell Grants originate from the federal government, the funds are distributed by the nearly 5,400 participating colleges and universities. Each school is granted an allotment of money, which they then disburse among eligible members of the student body. However, the Pell Grant is only awarded to undergraduate students. Graduate students and other higher education students aren't eligibile for the Pell Grant. 

The application process for a Pell Grant

Luckily, there is no separate application to receive the Pell Grant. You apply when you fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Eligible students will automatically be given the opportunity to accept the Pell Grant after filling out the FAFSA. While FAFSA can be a challenge to fill out, it's your only gateway to federal grants and loans, as well as some state grants and scholarships, so it’s definitely worth putting in the time. 

While your eligibility is considered for the Pell Grant program, you will also be applying for federal student loans and other financial aid offered by the federal government.

We’ve created a free online guide to help you through the process.

Deadline to apply for the Pell Grant in 2022

It’s important to be very aware of deadlines when it comes to the Pell Grant — there’s more than meets the eye.

For example, to apply for aid for the 2022-2023 school year, you must complete the FAFSA by June 30, 2022. That means you have plenty of time, right?

Not so fast.

Some states and individual schools have earlier deadlines. For example, Pennsylvania has a deadline of May 1, 2022. For a complete list of state deadlines, check out this page on the FAFSA website.

And don’t forget to check with your prospective schools to find out what their deadlines are. Once they’ve allotted all of their Pell Grant money, you’re out of luck until the following year.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the maximum award amount from a Pell Grant?

Maximum amounts for Pell Grants change every year. For 2022-2023, the maximum Pell Grant award is $6,495.

Keep in mind not everyone receives the maximum amount. Your award will be determined by the cost of your school’s tuition, your “expected family contribution,” (an amount based on your answers to several FAFSA questions), and whether you’ll be attending school as a full- or part-time student.

How will I receive the money from my Pell Grant?

After you’re accepted into a college, you’ll receive a financial aid award letter based on your FAFSA application. That letter will contain info about Pell Grant awards.

Then, the college will either pay you directly or disburse your Pell Grant funds to pay for tuition, fees, and room and board. If there's money left over after that, it will distributed to you to pay for books or other school expenses.

What if my Pell Grant doesn’t cover enough of my tuition?

If you think you'll still have trouble paying for college after you receive your Pell Grant, don't stress! There are plenty of other financial aid programs available to you to ensure you can continue your academic journey. 

You can explore more federal financial aid programs (like federal student loans), scholarships, and work-study programs offered by your university. Your school's financial aid office also may be able to provide financial resources to help you pay for tuition. Additionally, community college is a low-cost option that still accepts Pell Grants if your four-year-school's tuition is too high.

You can also explore the possibility of receiving private student loans from a variety of lenders. 

Are non-citizens eligible for Pell Grants?

There are a few situations in which non-U.S. citizens are granted access to federal student aid programs like the Pell Grant. However, there are many  U.S. residents, like DACA recipients, who are not eligible. 

To check your eligibility status, you can visit StudentAid.gov for more information. 

What GPA is required to keep a Pell Grant?

This can vary from school to school. However most colleges and universities require a 2.0 GPA (at minimum) to keep your financial aid. 

Learn more college planning tips with Nitro

Figuring out how to pay for college can be incredibly stressful. Between the different types of aid, scholarship applications, and applying to schools, college planning takes up a lot of time.

Nitro aims to make college planning as easy as possible for high school seniors and current college students. In our guides, you can explore a variety of topics, from financial aid to how to pay your student loans. Additionally, you can check out our top picks for the best deals on private student loans.

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Published in: Grants

About the Author
Jon O'Donnell

Jon is a writer and marketer for Nitro who is passionate about bringing transparency to the student loan process along with providing families with the information needed to make smart financial decisions. He also just recently refinanced his student loans allowing him to pay them off 5 years faster all while saving an additional $152/month. As he continues to pay them off himself, he strives to help others do the same. Jon also has a long history of connecting people with educational opportunities to help them improve their careers and their overall personal finances. In his free time you can find him reading travel blogs and researching destinations around the world in search of his next adventure. Read more by Jon O'Donnell