Federal Pell Grants

Federal Pell Grants are gift aid (aid that does not have to be repaid) funded by the federal government that supplement other aid.

How Much Federal Pell Grant Money Can I Get?

The Federal Pell Grant award amount depends on your financial need, cost of attendance, whether you are full-time or part-time, and whether you attend school for a full academic year or less. You should be enrolled in an eligible program consisting of at least 16 semester hours. Students with bachelor's degrees are not eligible.

Federal Pell Grants are awarded based on full-time enrollment (12 credit hours or more). In order for you to receive the full award amount listed on your Award Letter (which you can review in your Central Piedmont MyCollege account), you should take 12 credit hours or more per semester. If you enroll in less than 12 credit hours, you can use the Federal Pell Grant Calculator to determine how much Pell you will receive per semester. In general, if you decide to take less than 12 credit hours, your Federal Pell award will be reduced as follows: 

Credit Hours 

Percentage of Federal Pell









For EFCs greater than $4,400, contact the Financial Aid Office to determine how many credit hours are needed in order for your award to activate, as the chart above will not apply.

Estimate your Federal Pell Grant award amount with our Federal Pell Grant calculator.

Federal Pell Grant awards range from a minimum of $320/$319 per semester ($639 per year) to $3,173/$3,172 per semester ($6,345 per year). A maximum grant for fall 2020 semester is awarded as follows:

  • 12 credit hours: $3,173
  • 9–11 credit hours: $2,380/$2,379
  • 6–8 credit hours: $1,587/$1,586
  • 1–5 credit hours: $793

If awarded a Federal Pell Grant, you will receive an award letter by email detailing you full award amount. If you do not enroll or choose to attend less-than-full-time, unused funds from that semester can be awarded in summer up to your eligibility amount. If you are not receiving a full Federal Pell grant, you can calculate your amount by taking ¾ of your total Federal Pell for –11 credit hours, ½, of your total Federal Pell for 6–8 credit hours, or ¼ of your total Federal Pell semester award for 1–5 credit hours.


  • demonstrated financial need
  • be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen
  • hold a high school diploma or GED certificate
  • be enrolled in a minimum of 1 credit in an eligible program consisting of at least 16 hours
  • not have a bachelor's degree
  • maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress

Year-Round Federal Pell Grants

If you are eligible, you may receive a full Federal Pell Grant for summer even if you received a full Federal Pell Grant during the fall and spring semesters. Year-round Federal Pell allows you to receive up to 150 percent of a regular grant award over the course of the academic year. With careful planning, this allows you to continue taking classes in the summer and finish your degree faster than you would otherwise.

The provisions of the law state that any Federal Pell Grant received will be included in determining your Federal Pell Grant duration of eligibility and Lifetime Eligibility Used (LEU). To be eligible for additional Federal Pell Grant funds, you must:

  • be otherwise eligible to receive Federal Pell Grant funds for the payment period
  • be enrolled at least half-time in the payment period(s) (6 credit hours) during the summer term
  • be maintaining satisfactory academic progress

Federal Pell Grants for Dependents of Veterans

The Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 grants you an automatic zero EFC for the Federal Pell Grant Program only if you are a Federal Pell Grant-eligible student whose parent or guardian was a member of the Armed Forces and died in Iraq or Afghanistan after September 11, 2001.

To be eligible, you must have been twenty-four years of age or younger or enrolled at least part-time at an institution at the time of your parent's death. The FAFSA will not ask you about your eligibility for this additional benefit, so you will need to notify the Financial Aid Office concerning your eligibility.

Lifetime Federal Pell Grant Eligibility

The amount of Federal Pell Grant funds you may receive over your lifetime is limited by a federal law to be the equivalent of six years of Federal Pell Grant funding. Since the maximum amount of Federal Pell Grant funding you can receive each year is equal to 100%, the six-year equivalent is 600%.

The maximum of Federal Pell Grant funding you can receive is calculated for an award year.  An award year is a period from July 1 of one calendar year to June 30 of the next calendar year. Your scheduled award represents 100% of your Federal Pell Grant eligibility for that award year if you are enrolled full-time.

To determine how much of the maximum six years (600%) of Federal Pell Grant you have used each year, the U.S. Department of Education compares the actual amount you received for the award year with your scheduled award amount for that award year. Of course, if you receive the full amount of your scheduled award, you will have used 100%. It is possible that you might not receive your entire scheduled award for an award year. There are a number of reasons for this, the most common of which are that you are not enrolled for the full year or that you are not enrolled full-time, or both.

If you did not receive the full amount of your scheduled award, we calculate the percentage of the scheduled award that you did receive. For example, if your scheduled award for an award year is $5,000, but because you were enrolled for only one semester you received only $2,500, you would have received 50% of the scheduled award for that award year. Or if you received only $3,750 for the award year because you were enrolled three-quarter-time and not full-time, you would have received 75% for that year.

Lifetime Eligibility Used

The U.S. Department of Education keeps track of your lifetime eligibility used by adding together the percentages of your Federal Pell Grant scheduled awards that you received for each award year. Since the maximum amount of Federal Pell Grant funding you can receive each year is equal to 100%, the six-year-equivalent is 600%. If your lifetime eligibility used equals or exceeds 600%, you may no longer receive Federal Pell Grant funding. Similarly, if your lifetime eligibility used is greater than 500% but less than 600%, while you will be eligible for a Federal Pell Grant for the next award year, you will not be able to receive a full scheduled award.

You can review your Federal Pell Grant eligibility used on your Central Piedmont MyCollege account (student login required) or you can log in to National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS®) using your FSA ID and view your lifetime eligibility used. The lifetime eligibility used will be found on the Financial Aid Review page.

Estimate Your Federal Pell Grant Amount

Federal Pell Grant calculator