Pell Grant Calculator: How Much Federal Aid Can You Get?
Editor & Writer
Editor & Writer
- The upcoming Simplified FAFSA will change the way the government awards Pell Grants.
- Experts expect these changes to increase the number of students eligible for the award.
- New releases from Federal Student Aid give us insight into how to calculate Pell Grant awards for future students.
The federal government will soon change how it distributes Pell Grants, and a new resource gives future students insight into how those changes will affect them.
Pell Grants are the primary way the federal government helps subsidize the cost of a college degree or certificate for low- and middle-income students. Upcoming changes to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the 2024-25 academic year will shake up how much aid students will receive moving forward.
Federal Student Aid (FSA) recently released a series of "look-up tables" to help students determine whether they'll qualify for a maximum or minimum Pell Grant in 2024.
What You Need to Calculate Your Pell Grant Eligibility
The new FAFSA — also referred to as the Simplified FAFSA — uses five key factors to determine Pell Grant eligibility:
- A student's dependency status
- State of legal residence
- Adjusted gross income (AGI) for student and/or parent(s)
- Single-parent status
- Family size
Whether someone is a dependent or independent student affects which look-up table they must use.
According to the National College Attainment Network (NCAN), an independent student is someone who is at least one of the following:
- Born before 2001
- A graduate student or professional student
- A veteran or current member of the armed forces
- An orphan, a ward of the court, or an emancipated minor
- Someone with legal dependents who aren't a spouse
- Someone at risk of experiencing homelessness, or someone currently experiencing homelessness
- A student with a legal guardian
A dependent student is anybody who doesn't fit the above criteria.
The FAFSA uses the federal poverty guidelines to determine whether someone qualifies for a Pell Grant.
However, there are three different guidelines.
The primary guideline applies to all 48 states that are part of the continental U.S., as well as Washington, D.C. There are separate guidelines for Hawaii and Alaska.
FSA's look-up tables use 2022 poverty guidelines.
|Number of people in household||Primary poverty guideline||Alaskan guideline||Hawaiian guideline|
The parental status is a key determiner of whether someone will qualify for a Pell Grant.
A dependent student should use the single-parent calculations if their parent is a single parent. Independent students, meanwhile, should use the single-parent measure if they are a single parent.
This is a crucial step because single parents can further exceed the poverty guideline and still qualify for aid.
Calculating family size is different depending on whether someone is a dependent or independent student.
Dependent students should include the following as part of their family size:
- The student
- All parents, even if the student is not living with them. Exclude parents who no longer live in the household due to separation or divorce.
- Siblings who live with the student's parents, receive more than half of their support from the student's parents, and will continue to receive this support during the award year
- Other people who live with the student's parents, receive more than half of their support from the student's parents, and will continue to receive this support during the award year
Independent students should include the following as part of their family size:
- The student
- The student's spouse
- Dependent children who live with the student, receive more than half of their support from the student, and will continue to receive this support during the award year
- Other people who live with the student, receive more than half of their support from the student, and will continue to receive this support during the award year
Adjusted Gross Income
AGI is the income minus any adjustments used for tax returns.
Adjustments to income include things like educator expenses, student loan interest, alimony payments, and contributions to a retirement account, according to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Dependent students should use the income of their parent(s), while independent students would use their own income.
How to Calculate Which Pell Grant You Qualify For
Now that you have the necessary information, it's time to figure out if you qualify for the maximum or minimum Pell Grant award for the 2024-25 school year.
Students will take whichever federal poverty guideline matches their family size as a first step. Then, take a percentage of whatever that guideline is, depending on whether you are a dependent or independent student, and whether it's for a single parent.
If the student's AGI is below a threshold, that'll determine if the student qualifies for a Pell Grant.
That's no doubt confusing. So first, let's break down the percentages:
|Status||Max Pell % of poverty guideline||Minimum Pell % of poverty guideline|
|Dependent, parent is a single parent||225%||325%|
|Dependent, parent is not a single parent||175%||275%|
|Independent, single parent||225%||400%|
|Independent, parent, but not a single parent||175%||350%|
|Independent, not a parent||175%||275%|
As an example, let's say an independent student who is a single parent applies for federal student aid through the FAFSA. The student is in a household of three when they apply and lives in the continental U.S.
That student would use the general poverty guideline to find that for their family size. Their guideline is $23,030 per year.
Using the table above, they would calculate 400% of that guideline to determine if they qualify for the minimum Pell Grant award. That gives them $92,120, which means if that student's AGI is less than $92,120, they will qualify for the minimum Pell Grant.
To determine if they qualify for the maximum grant, they would calculate 225% of the poverty guideline figure for a family of three ($23,030). That would come out to $51,818 per year, meaning they qualify for the maximum Pell award if they make less than that.
What Is the Maximum and Minimum Pell Grant Award?
The maximum Pell Grant award for the 2023-24 academic year is $7,395.
The minimum award each year is roughly 10% of the maximum award. This would put the 2023-24 minimum award at roughly $740.
FSA has not yet revealed the maximum and minimum awards for the 2024-25 academic year.