To qualify for a Pell Grant each year you must begin by filling out a FAFSA, or free application for federal aid. The FAFSA is the government's universal application for federal student aid, and to figure out if you satisfy the Pell Grant qualifications you must fill out this form on-time, and in a complete fashion. The amount that you are going to be awarded will be based on the EFC metric that is determined by the Department of Education after filling in all of your information via the FAFSA form. Pell Grants are free sources of money that are given to students each year, and they do not have to be repaid regardless of whether your graduate from college or not.

To qualify for a federal Pell grant, you are going to have to demonstrate a financial need for the proceeds of the grant. The Pell Grant is designed for students that come from lower-income families who display a significant need for additional monies to attend school, and you need is therefore the most important Pell Grant qualification you must pay attention to if you want to get approved for this award. Your financial need for the Pell Grant is determined by the calculation of the EFC metric, or expected family contribution, which is supposed to stand as a clear indicator of your family's ability to contribute money towards your college education. Your household size, along with the number of family members that are currently in school also will have an effect on your EFC, and thus your ability to get aid by way of the Pell Grant. The absolute highest EFC you can exhibit in order to qualify for a Pell Grant is set at 4,617, and the lower your EFC is, the better your chances at receiving the full amount.

Your need for aid isn't the only thing you need to pay attention to though, as there are other Pell Grant qualifications that will determine the actual amount you are able to receive for any particular school year. The formula that is used to determine the amount that you qualify for is based on if you are a dependent student or an independent student, your need for aid, the cost of going to your particular university, and the number of credit hours you are taking for that school year. To give you an idea of the kind of incomes that will result in the highest Pell Grant amounts, most families that make less than about 30,000 dollars per year are able to secure the full amount, with families that make anywhere between 30,000, and 60,000 dollars per year able to get about half of the full amount.