Main header

What Are the Eligibility Requirements for a Pell Grant?

How to Pay for College > What Aid do I Qualify for? > Basic Eligibility Criteria > What Are the Eligibility Requirements for a Pell Grant?

The first step in the application is the completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®). You’re automatically considered for the Pell Grant when you submit the FAFSA®. Find out if you’re eligible for federal financial aid, including the Pell Grant,  right now by taking the quiz. Also, learn more about the Pell Grant requirement below.


To be eligible for a Pell Grant, individuals must be enrolled or accepted into a participating educational institution. They cannot have earned a bachelor’s or another professional degree already, and they must meet all the other general requirements for federal student aid outlined below.

FAFSA® is now open for 2020, file in less than 5 minutes!


General Eligibility for Federal Aid

Before you get to the specific requirements for a Pell Grant, you must meet the general criteria for federal student aid. Take the quiz below to see if you qualify for free Pell Grant money.

Those requirements are:

  • For most programs, you must demonstrate and document a legitimate financial need.
  • You must be a citizen or an eligible non-citizen — a U.S. National or a permanent resident, for example.
  • You must have a valid social security number, unless you fall into one of the very few specific exceptions.
  • If you’re male and between 18 and 25, you must register with Selective Service.
  • You must be enrolled or at least accepted into an approved educational program or institution. If you’re enrolled, you must be taking a course loa