Federal Pell Grants

Federal Pell Grants

Federal Pell Grants are given to undergraduate students who have not yet earned a bachelor's or professional degree. Pell Grants are awarded based on financial need as demonstrated on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Pell is a federal grant, not a loan, and does not need to be paid back. Amounts can change yearly. Section 401(b)(7)(B) of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (the HEA), provides for an automatic increase to the appropriated Federal Pell Grant maximum award, resulting in a 2014-2015 maximum award of $5,730. This maximum Pell Grant award for the 2014-2015 Award Year is an increase of $85 from the $5,645 maximum Pell Grant award for the 2013-2014 Award Year.

The maximum can change each award year and depends on program funding. The amount you receive will depend not only on your financial need, but also on your costs to attend school, your status as a full-time or part-time student, and your plans to attend Columbia for a full academic year or less.


Updates to the Program

The amount of Federal Pell Grant funds you may receive over your lifetime is limited by a new federal law to be the equivalent of six years of Pell Grant funding. Since the maximum amount of Pell Grant funding you can receive each year is equal to 100%, the six-year equivalent is 600%. For more details and to calculate your Lifetime Eligibility Used for Pell, please visit the federal student aid website.

In accordance with the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008, the following previous updates went into effect July 1, 2009:

  • Children of U.S. military veterans may be eligible to receive the maximum Federal Pell Grant award if their parent or guardian was a member of the U.S. Armed Forces and died as a result of performing military service in Iraq or Afghanistan after September 11, 2001.  The student must have been under 24 years of age or enrolled in college at the time of the parent or guardian's death. In addition, the student must already be eligible for the Federal Pell Grant award under the original determination of eligibility.
  • Any student who is subject to an involuntary civil commitment after completing a period of incarceration for a forcible or non-forcible sexual offense is ineligible to receive a Federal Pell Grant.