Federal Pell Grant Eligibility Requirements

Students must:

  1. be a matriculated undergraduate student enrolled/accepted for study, who does not have a prior bachelor's degree
  2. be enrolled for at least 1 credit each term
  3. maintain good academic standing
  4. be a citizen, national or permanent resident alien with a valid social security number; students must verify their eligible noncitizen status upon request.
  5. not be in default on any federal loan borrowed while attending any institution at any time
  6. not owe a refund on a federal Pell grant, FSEOG or federal Perkins loan (formally NDSL) to any institution
  7. have a high-school diploma or a general education development (G.E.D.) certificate, pass a test approved by the U.S. Department of Education, or meet other standards your state establishes that are approved by the U.S. Department of Education
  8. have financial need as determined by the federal Pell grant EFC in coordination with the college's cost of attendance, your enrollment status and whether you attend school for a full academic year, or less
  9. not have reached the federal Pell lifetime eligibility limit (the equivalent of 12 full-time terms).

To qualify for Pell, you must submit a valid student aid report (SAR/ISIR electronically via FAFSA). The effective family contribution on the SAR/ISIR determines the award. Valid federal data must be received while the student is enrolled for the award year. Students may receive a Pell grant at only one school per financial aid term.

Regulations define an undergraduate as one who is enrolled in an undergraduate course of study and who has not earned a bachelor's degree or its equivalent, or a first professional degree. (By "professional degree," we mean degrees offered by professional programs, such as pharmacy, dentistry, veterinary programs, or chiropractic programs.) Occasionally, a student will complete the requirements for a bachelor's degree but will continue taking undergraduate courses without accepting the degree. The school must decide at what point it considers the student to have completed the bachelor's degree course of study, when the student completes the requirement for the degree, or when the student actually receives the degree. If the school considers the student to have completed the bachelor's degree course of study, the student is no longer eligible to receive a federal Pell grant or a FSEOG.

If the student receives a Pell grant at another college and then transfers to Empire State College during the same financial aid year (summer, fall and spring), the amount of the Pell grant that the student received at the other institution must be subtracted from the total annual maximum federal Pell grant for which the student qualifies. In order to ensure that students do not owe a refund of federal Pell grant funds and/or college tuition and fees, students who attend another institution during the same financial-aid year and then transfer to Empire State College must contact the financial aid office at financialaid@esc.edu before they accept any refunds of federal funds.

Students may only receive up to 12 terms of full-time Pell, or the equivalent. The Department of Education tracks the number of terms a student has used Pell. Once a student has reached that limit, he or she is no longer eligible for Pell at any institution. An award may be reduced if the student is nearing that limit, or cancelled if a student has reached that limit.