Pell Grants For Military: How to Get Free Aid For School

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Grants are a type of financial aid that the recipient doesn’t have to pay back. If you receive a federal, state, or institutional funding, it’s free money to help cover your college expenses. There are also Pell Grants for military members available despite other financial aid options.

File the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) each year to see how much assistance you can receive from Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grants, Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants, and Pell Grants. 

What are Pell Grants?

Pell Grants are the largest type of federal financial aid that the government awards. When assigning Pell Grants, the U.S. Department of Education will look solely at your financial need. To determine this, the government will consider:

  • Your finances
  • Your enrollment status
  • Tuition costs

Though your eligibility does depend on maintaining a certain grade-point average, the Department of Education award amount is not based on your academic achievement. The award will be adjusted, however, if you only go to school part-time.

How do Pell Grants for military work?

Complete the FAFSA® to see how much you can receive from Pell Grants and other types of financial aid. Filing is free, so always apply even if you don’t think you’ll qualify.

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How much can I receive from Pell Grants?

The most you can receive from the Pell Grant for the 2020-2021 academic year is $6,345. This is the same max amount awarded through the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant. Remember to re-submit your FAFSA® every year to continue receiving Pell Grants to cover your education expenses.

Note that the Department of Education sets the Expected Family Contribution to zero for individuals who had a parent or guardian died. At the same time, in military service in Iraq or Afghanistan after Sept. 11 event, who meet the additional eligibility requirements. Setting the expected family contribution to zero maximizes the Pell Grant aid these individuals can get.

Do I have to meet any other requirements?

Yes. The U.S. Department of Education only awards Pell Grants to individuals who:

  • Are U.S. citizens or eligible non-citizens
  • Have a valid Social Security Number
  • Maintain satisfactory academic progress (i.e., maintain a 2.0 grade-point average and an expected graduation date within 150 percent of the normal timeframe)
  • Are qualified to obtain a post-secondary education

If you want to receive federal aid, you’ll need to submit your FAFSA® by the federal and state deadlines as well as any deadlines at the schools you’re applying to.

Do I have to pay back my Pell Grant?

Only in certain circumstances. For example, if someone withdraws early from a program that they received a Pell Grant to attend, that person will have to repay all or part of the award. If your enrollment status changes or you receive additional aid that adjusts your financial need, you may also have to pay back all or part of a Pell Grant.