Pell Grant Income Limits
When it comes to matters of money, most people are accustomed to hard facts and firm statistics. When consumers walk into a store, they expect price tags on each and every item on the shelf, for example, and when they apply for a loan, they expect clear instructions about the credit score they must have that will make them eligible for the loan.
Unfortunately, these sorts of income limits are a little difficult to define, when it comes to federal Pell Grants. These grants are designed to help the neediest of students, and there’s only a specific amount of money to go around. As a result, administrators tend to look at all of the applicants they have and disburse the loans to the neediest students first, while giving students of a more robust background smaller amounts of money. As a result, the income limits can flex from year to year, depending on the background of the students who apply.
That being said, looking at the statistics regarding past Pell Grant recipients can help students to understand how the process typically works, and that might allow them to determine the likelihood of their own eligibility.
How Pell Grants Are Calculated
When evaluating a student’s eligibility, administrators measure how much money a student’s family has to spend on education, and they compare that amount to the cost of tuition at the school the student chooses to attend. It’s a fairly straightforward approach, but there can be some exceptions. For example, the U.S. Department of Education suggests that students with a parent or guardian who died in Iraq or Afghanistan after 9/11 have slightly different calculations. If these students are eligible for Pell Grants, the amount they receive could be greater, as the
Standardized students with no such circumstances, however, are determined eligible or ineligible based on the amount that they have measured against the amount that they owe. If they come in on the low end of the spectrum, when compared to other students who apply, they might be rewarded with a Pell Grant. Those with the greatest need might get the largest awards.
The amount of money available to disburse through the Pell Grant program is somewhat small, when compared to the number of students who might need a little help in order to pay for school. As a result, the students who come from low-income homes tend to be the students who are most likely to get a grant.
In the 2009-2010 school year, for example, nearly 80 percent of those students who attended a community college with the help of a Pell Grant had a family income level of less than 150 percent of the federal poverty level, according to a report published by the American Association of Community Colleges. Similarly, of those students, 60.7 percent had family income levels that were $20,000 or less, which is below the poverty threshold for a family of four.
These are dire statistics, and they seem to suggest that students from the middle classes won’t get the help of Pell Grants. However, it’s always worthwhile to apply. There’s no cost to do so, and students might be surprised at the result.
- Pell Grants are great resources for those who are eligible to receive them, but very few people actually are granted these funds.
- If you’re looking for other sources of funding for college, here are a few basic rules: look to grants and scholarships first, as they’re free; if you need more funding after that, federal loans are the way to go.
- However, if you exhaust those two options and still need more money for college, private student loans can be a good resource to bridge your financial gap.
- With private loans, doing your research is important — so check out our loan comparison tool, and use it to compare loans across a variety of different lenders that you might be eligible for.