Pell Grant Income Limits

considering a pell grantWhen 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

reward is calculated with the assumption that the family will contribute nothing to the child’s education.

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.

Income Statistics

income statisticsThe 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.

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