Pell Grants: Do You Have to Pay Them Back?

VD November 11 2021

If you want to know, do you have to pay back grants from the government or not, the answer is usually "no". Typically the government never asks you to pay back the grant. However, in some situations, you might have to choose the option of paying back the Pell grant. If you end up receiving more Pell Grant money than you're supposed to receive, the government will require that you pay back that overpayment.

Fundamentals of Pell Grant

The government provides federal grants to students that don’t have a solid financial background. According to the statistics, the USA government helps almost 7 million students annually on average.

The good thing about the Pell grant is that you don’t have to return it to the government; the money invested in your education will not be in the form of a loan. But just like other financial aids and loans, the Pell grant has strict criteria for eligibility. The first step to getting a Pell grant is to align with the eligibility criteria. This includes being a U.S citizen, having financial dependency status, be enrolled as at least a half-time student.

One of the main criteria for qualifying for this grant is the expected family contribution (EFC). But to qualify for EFC you must first file your taxes. If you are required to file taxes but fail to do so, then expect not to receive the federal Pell Grant until next year or even longer.

Also, if your tuition payment exceeds your financial ability and you opt for additional loans instead of grants, they will also come in as a form of debt and you may need to pay it back with interest rates and terms and conditions. It’s advisable that students work hard and save up on they can use towards their education as well as receive the Pell Grants to avoid any form of debt.

How Much You Can Receive from a Pell Grant?

The government doesn’t determine the amount you should receive as a Pell grant, it instead evaluates your financial situation and determines how much you qualify for. In fact, there is no maximum or minimum limit that students can fall under.

Generally, if you are going to college for the first time or continuing another course, then you can expect a maximum of about $5200 per year. This also comes with other conditions such as living on campus and other eligibility criteria. It's important to understand that this isn't an entitlement program but something that requires certain conditions to be met before you're eligible for it. The good news is that Pell Grants aren’t considered as taxable income, so you won't need to pay taxes for the amount received.


Sources of money in Pell Grant

The government approves the funds spent on students through Pell granted in the following process.

  • The Head of the United States of America sends a summary of the budget request to Congress.
  • The Senator looks at the bill and makes changes to it.
  • In October, the bill was passed by the senate.
  • The President signed the bill finally, and it is official now.

 If we look at the previous stats, we would understand that Trump's era was the most golden in the educational sector. He increased the money grant limit and provided additional funds for eligible USA residents. 

Today, the average Pell Grant amount for this academic year is $5,920. Should you want to check the government's website and search for potential grants available in your state, then go ahead and do so.

Useful Tips:

  1. Make sure that you only apply when you meet every single criteria of eligibility.
  2. If any of your family members had a federal student aid before, then it is most likely they will make you ineligible for receiving another one.
  3. Be sure to read carefully each and every line on the application form such as date restrictions and other conditions. Also, make sure that all information provided relates to your status or situation otherwise there might be some delays especially if they need further clarification from you.
  4. If you are enrolled in multiple courses or study levels, then make sure that you meet all the requirements of every single one of them without fail before applying for a grant.
  5. Check on your local authorities on any additional funds available to worthy students through organizations and associations. This is more advantageous as they can offer assistance with tuition fees, books, materials, and other necessities on an equal opportunity basis regardless of people's ancestral backgrounds or sexual orientation.
  6. You can also get money from your parents if they are wealthy enough to finance your education. But this would depend on how much time it will take before you finish school since their income may change over the years. Although it’s not guaranteed that receiving financial aid from your parents is a natural thing, it's the best possible way to go about this matter if you have been saving up on your own before.

In conclusion, there are many ways to fund your education and none of them should be left out as they all provide equal opportunities regardless of who you are or where you come from. It’s advisable that students work hard and save up on what they can use towards their education as well as receive the Pell Grants to avoid any form of debt.

As long as you meet every required criteria for funding your studies, then there’s no reason why you shouldn't try for a grant. There is a lot more out there than just loans which most people think in terms of when trying to finance their education. So, if you want to find out more about these grants and how they work, then continue reading as we delve deeper into the topic.


Pell Grant: do you have to pay back the money?

While following the guidelines, you also have to keep in mind that a small mark on your student record can lead to the repayment of the grant. 

Below listed situations can lead you to repay the grant amount:

  • If you leave your degree in between.
  • If you shift in your enrollment status.
  • If your GPA falls below the eligibility criteria.
  • If there’s a shift in the income of the family.
  • If you cannot avail grant with any other grant or scholarship.

 In some cases, the federal government will overcharge you, and you have to repay the amount with some fine on it. If your enrollment status falls, your institute considers you as an overpaid student, yet they ask you to repay the grant amount along with the overpayment.

When Pell Grant doesn't have to be repaid

The best way to keep yourself safe from repayments is to stay updated with your school notifications. 

If you are a person that ignores school notifications, that means you might face many problems. Because if the school asks you for the repayment, they will only give you a 45 days limit to repay the total amount. 

However, if you want to pay in small chunks, you will have to go to your student advisor and financial officer to make a repayment plan for you using the aid provided by the school.

In case you fail to repay the amount on time, the government will blacklist you, and you will no longer be eligible for any government grants in the future. 

It will worsen things, and affording education will be arduous for you without any government grant because most USA residents use government grants for further studies.