What’s a Pell Grant? What to know about Biden student loan forgiveness


  • President Joe Biden announced a plan to forgive or reduce student debt for borrowers across the country.
  • Individuals who have received Pell Grants are eligible for $20,000 of federal debt relief.
  • But what is a Pell Grant? Do they have to be paid back? Here’s what you should know.

President Joe Biden on Wednesday announced his plan to forgive or reduce millions of borrowers from student debt.

Although the Biden administration had already agreed to start paying off student debt for certain borrowers, the president said this week that people earning less than $125,000 a year are eligible for up to $10,000 in state cancellation have student loans. Recipients of Pell Grants may have $20,000 waived.

Pell Grants are awarded to students at educational institutions across the country. People who have received Pell grants make up more than 60% of the “borrower population,” the White House said. And more than 70% of students at historically black colleges and universities are eligible for a federal Pell grant, according to the United Negro College Fund.

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But what is a Pell Grant? Who receives them? Here’s what you need to know.

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What is a Pell grant?

A federal Pell Scholarship is money awarded to students who, according to the Department of Education, have “extraordinary financial needs.”

The maximum Ffederal Pell Grant award for the 2022-2023 award year, which runs from July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2023, is $6,895.

The amount a recipient can receive depends on a few factors, including:

  • Expected family contribution, calculated using the information a student and family provide on their Free Federal Student Aid Application (FAFSA) forms.
  • The cost of participation as determined by an educational institution for a student’s program.
  • A person’s status as a full-time or part-time student.
  • A person’s intention to attend school for a full school year or less.


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Who qualifies for Pell Grants?

State Pell Scholarships are not only awarded to students who demonstrate financial need, but are typically awarded to undergraduate students who have not earned a bachelor’s degree, graduate degree, or other professional qualifications. However, some students in postbaccalaureate teacher certification programs may receive federal grants from Pell, according to the Department of Education.

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There are additional circumstances that may result in an individual being eligible for federal Pell Grant funds: for example, if their parent or guardian was a member of the U.S. Armed Forces and died “as a result of military service beginning after the events of Iraq or Afghanistan of 9/11”, among other provisions.

Many Pell grantees come from families that make less than $60,000 a year, according to the White House.

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Do I have to pay back a Pell Grant?

A Pell Grant is not a loan and typically does not have to be repaid.

In certain circumstances, a grant may need to be repaid, e.g. B. when there is a change in matriculation status or when an individual has received outside scholarships or grants that have reduced their need for state aid.

How do you apply for a Pell Scholarship?

If you think you may be eligible for a Pell Grant, you should first submit a FAFSA form. Your school will use this information to determine your eligibility.

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If you are eligible, the school determines how much you can receive. According to the Department of Education, each year that you enroll in college, you must fill out a FAFSA form to remain eligible for federal student aid.

Schools that participate in the program “receive enough funding from the U.S. Department of Education each year to pay federal Pell grant amounts for all eligible students,” according to the department. A person’s school can pay you directly, apply the money to your school expenses, or a combination of both.

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How do you know if you have a Pell Grant?

If you are unsure if you received a Pell Scholarship, you should check your personal account at studentaid.gov. You may have to wait to enter the site due to heavy traffic following Biden’s announcement this week.

You can also contact the scholarship office at your college or university who may be able to provide you with more information.

Featuring: Medora Lee and Bailey Schulz, USA TODAY

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