Maximum Pell Grant Amount
Share this Article
The maximum Pell Grant amount a student can receive is $6,895.
Last year, the average Pell Grant amount was $4,130.
When you account for inflation, the average Pell Grant amount decreased by about 4% between 2011 and 2021.Note Reference , 
In 2020, over 98% of the highest Pell Grant amounts went to students from families making less than the U.S. median annual salary., 
Research indicates that Pell Grants positively influence graduate rates among low-income students.
But, Pell Grant recipients also accrue more student loan debt.
The average Pell Grant amount varies across school type, income, dependency status, and state.
Pell Grants have been the largest single source of federal college aid for the past 40 years. In 2021-2022 alone, over 6 million students received Pell Grants.Note Reference 
But Pell Grants don't pay for all of your college tuition. They typically cover less than one-third of the cost of tuition and under 20% of the full cost of college., 
Keep reading to find the maximum Pell Grant amount available this year and averages over time.
Table of Contents
How Much Is a Pell Grant?
According to the Department of Education (ED), the maximum Pell Grant amount a student can receive during the 2022-2023 school year is $6,895.Note Reference  This maximum changes every July.
Not all Pell Grant recipients receive the maximum amount. Your amount depends on the following:
- The cost of the program you're attending
- Whether you attend full time or part time
- Whether you attend a full year or just a semester
- What the government expects your family to contribute to your education (We'll dig into this in the financial need section of this report.)
In 2021-2022, the average Pell Grant amount was $4,130.Note Reference 
In total, the government gave out about $25.4 billion in Pell Grants to 6.1 million students.Note Reference 
Did You Know...
President Biden intends to double the maximum Pell Grant amount by 2029.
His plan includes increasing the maximum award to $8,670 in 2023-2024, a nearly 26% increase from the current amount. The plan still requires congressional support to pass.
Average Pell Grant Amount Over Time
Pell Grant amounts have increased over the years, but not enough to match rising tuition costs or even inflation in recent years.
- From 2001-2021, the average Pell Grant amount increased by almost 80%.2,9 In July 2021 constant dollars (i.e., accounting for inflation), that represents a nearly 17% increase.Note Reference 
- The average Pell Grant amount increased by roughly 16% in the 10 years between 2011 and 2021.2 — a 4% decrease in constant dollars.Note Reference 
Pell Grant Amounts Compared to Rising Tuition
The cost of college has skyrocketed. Pell Grant amounts haven't kept up.
- In 1980, the maximum Pell Grant amount surpassed the average cost of tuition and fees by 36%.Note Reference , Note Reference 
- The average Pell Grant amount covered 68% of the average cost of tuition and fees the same year.Note Reference , Note Reference 
- In 2020, the average Pell Grant amount covered less than one-third (31%) of the average cost of tuition and fees.Note Reference , Note Reference 
- The same year, it covered about 16% of the average total cost of college, including tuition, fees, room, and board.Note Reference , Note Reference 
Do Pell Grants Help?
Pell Grants are supposed to help improve access to higher education for students and their families who can't afford it otherwise. But the current amount might not be enough.
Research published in the American Economic Journal in 2019 analyzed the outcomes of approximately 600,000 undergraduates in 39 public Texas universities. They found:Note Reference 
- Low-income bachelor's students who qualified for the maximum Pell Grant amount had higher four-year graduation rates and earnings than those who just missed qualifying for the full amount.
- Qualifying recipients were 13% more likely to graduate in four years than students who didn't qualify for the full Pell Grant amount.
- Among grant recipients who didn't receive the full amount, an added $1,000 in first-year grant aid was linked to a 10-16% increase in graduation rates.
- The more Pell Grant aid students received, the less they had to borrow in student loan debt.
But there's a catch. Remember how small today's Pell Grant amounts are compared to the average tuition? Well, that can lead to a pattern where low-income students still need to borrow student loans to make up for the cost of college not covered by the Pell Grant.
According to data collected by NCES in 2016:
- 67% of Pell Grant recipients took out federal student loans, versus just 44% of non-Pell Grant recipients.
- On average, Pell Grant recipients owed over $4,500 more in federal student loans than students not receiving Pell Grants.Note Reference 
Pell Grant Amounts by Financial Situation
The government decides your Pell Grant amount based on your or your family's expected contribution to your education. This depends on your or your family's income.
Let's break down the average Pell Grant amount for different financial situations.
Pell Grant Amount by Income
The highest Pell Grant amounts ($6,000 or more) primarily go to students from families making less than $50,000 a year.Note Reference 
- Over 98% of Pell Grant amounts above $6,345 went to students from families making less than $50,000 a year or less.Note Reference  (The average annual income in the U.S. was $56,310.Note Reference )
- In addition, roughly 70% of Pell Grant amounts of over $3,000 went to students from families making $30,000 a year or less.Note Reference 
Pell Grant Amount by Dependency Status
The Pell Grant distinguishes between dependent and independent students. Dependent students rely on financial support from their family or legal guardian. Independent students do not.
In 2020, the average Pell Grant amount was higher for independent students by about $100-$200 or 2-5%.
|Dependency Status||Average Pell Grant Amount|
|Independent Without Dependents (i.e., children)||$4,641|
|Independent With Dependents||$4,505|
Pell Grant Amount by School Type
Private college tuition generally costs more than public college tuition.Note Reference  But, private schools may offer students financial aid. In addition, qualifying students may get slightly higher Pell Grant amounts.
In 2020, the average Pell Grant amount was highest at private two-year and four-year public colleges than at other school types. It was lowest at two-year public colleges.
|Institution Control and Type||Average Pell Grant Amount|
|Private, Nonprofit Four-Year||$4,458|
|Private, Nonprofit Two-Year||$5,001|
|Private, For-Profit Two and Four-Year Schools||$4,263|
Pell Grant Amount by State
The federal government offers Pell Grants, not states. However, Pell Grants do differ from state to state.
The average Pell Grant amounts in 2020 were highest at colleges in:
- Puerto Rico ($4,880)
- New York ($4,722)
- Mississippi ($4,717)
Average Pell Grant amounts were lowest at colleges in:
- New Hampshire ($2,695)
- Minnesota ($3,833)
- Maryland ($3,877)