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Everything You Need to Know About Pell Grants

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An image of an instructor from UTI Houston who is smiling and wearing a red shirt as he talks to a student

Everything You Need to Know About Pell Grants

Want free money for school? You might be eligible for a Pell Grant from the federal government. Here are some frequently asked questions about Pell Grants to help give you the information you need to maximize your financial aid opportunities.

What Is a Pell Grant?

A Pell Grant is a form of federal financial aid that is considered “gift aid,” which means you can use the money but not have to pay it back like a loan. Federal Pell Grants can reduce the cost of going to school and are typically awarded based on financial need.

How Do You Know If You’re Eligible for a Pell Grant?

Determining Pell Grant eligibility is a straightforward process. According to the federal government, Pell Grants are usually awarded to undergraduate students who are part of programs leading to undergraduate degrees or certificates. So if you’ve already received a bachelor’s degree, graduate degree or professional degree from a university, you are likely not eligible for a Pell Grant.

The federal government states that Pell Grants are awarded only to students who display exceptional financial need. If you or your parents exceed a certain level of income, you may not be eligible.

What Is the Maximum Amount of a Pell Grant?

Pell Grants are awarded each year, and the maximum amount changes every year. For the 2021-22 award year, the maximum Pell Grant amount is $6,495.

The amount of Pell Grant funds a student may receive is limited to six academic years of funding.

How Do You Apply for a Pell Grant?

To apply for a Pell Grant, a student must fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. The form takes about an hour to complete. The student and parents (if the student is a dependent) will be asked to provide their Social Security numbers, as well as income-based questions to determine their level of financial need. The form can be filled out on paper, online or within the FAFSA mobile app. Learn more about creating a FAFSA here.

Each year that a student wants to apply for a Pell Grant, a new FAFSA form must be filled out. The FAFSA year starts on July 1 and goes through June 30 of the following year.

What Can You Use a Pell Grant For?

Pell Grant funds can be used to cover tuition and fees, books, supplies, transportation, miscellaneous personal expenses, living expenses, and childcare costs for students with dependents.

Who Gets the Pell Grant Money?

Pell Grant money is sent to the school a student is attending. The school then applies that money toward tuition and fees. Any remaining money is distributed to the student.

Can You Use a Pell Grant for Trade Schools?

It depends. While more than 6,600 institutions participate in the federal financial aid program, some universities and trade schools do not. You can search the Federal School Code List to find participating schools, including Universal Technical Institute (UTI).

Where Does Pell Grant Money Come From?

The U.S. Department of Education, a department of the federal government, provides Pell Grant money.

Do You Have to Pay Back a Pell Grant?

If a student uses a Pell Grant and follows its guidelines, there is no need to pay it back. There are some situations when a student may need to repay all or part of a Pell Grant. These include:

  • The student withdrew early from the program for which the grant was given.
  • Change of enrollment status (for example, from full-time to part-time), which reduced grant eligibility.
  • The student received other scholarships or grants that reduced federal student aid need.

If you need to repay part or all of the Pell Grant, your school will notify you.

Talk to UTI About Your Options

If you have questions about Pell Grants or any other type of financial aid, the UTI Financial Aid Department is here to help.10 We can provide assistance for FAFSA questions and any other type of information you need. Call (800) 859-7249 or email the Financial Aid Department at the UTI campus you're interested in attending for information.

Need FAFSA Help?

If you need any assistance while completing the FAFSA, we’re here to help. You can schedule an appointment with one of our Financial Aid Support Specialists by clicking below or by calling toll-free at (844)-338-0032.