Are You Eligible for a Pell Grant?

How a Pell Grant Can Help You Pay for School

Post-secondary education can help you get a leg up in the job market, training and preparing you for a rewarding career. There’s just one barrier that stands between many students and the education they want or need: the cost.

The price of post-secondary education varies depending on the type of program you enroll in, the length of the program, and whether you go to a public or private school. For many students, pursuing a post-secondary career certificate, in a program that lasts for about a year or less, can make sense. Orange Technical College offers career certificates in a wide range of fields and industries. Since the school is public, the cost of the programs is much less than it would be at a private school.

But you might still need help paying for your chosen certificate program. Fortunately, financial aid options are available. While student loans get a lot of attention, as more and more people borrow money to pay for school[1], there are other assistance programs available, which don’t need to be repaid. One option is the Federal Pell Grant. Learn more about the grant, including who’s eligible for it and how to apply for it.

What Is the Pell Grant?

The Pell Grant program began in 1972 and was named for a senator from Rhode Island. Since the grant program began, it has helped tens of millions of people in the U.S. pay for post-secondary education[2].

As long as you make progress in your program and attend an eligible program, the amount a student receives as a Pell Grant doesn’t have to be paid back. The grants are meant to provide financial assistance to students with the greatest amount of need. Usually, students need to be in an undergraduate program and can’t already have a bachelor’s degree.

The maximum amount you can get under the Pell Grant program depends on your financial need and the cost of your school. For the 2021-2022 school year, the maximum award is $6,495[3]. If your school costs less than $6,495, your award will be adjusted based on the cost of your program. Your family’s expected financial contribution also influences the value of your grant.

Who Qualifies for the Pell Grant?

Not all students qualify for a Pell Grant. The program is designed to provide financial aid to people with the biggest financial need. It’s also only available to people who are citizens of the U.S. or non-citizens who have a social security number. To continue to receive the grant, you need to make satisfactory progress in your chosen career certificate program.

It’s also important to choose a program that is eligible for federal financial aid. Career certificate programs need to be at least 600 hours to qualify. To keep the funds, you need to attend at least 60% of the program’s clock hours. If you leave the program early or receive enough additional aid, such as scholarships[4], to cover the full cost of tuition, you’ll need to repay the Pell Grant.

How Do You Apply for the Pell Grant?

If you’re interested in applying for a Pell Grant, you need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). To complete the FAFSA, you’ll need your social security number, driver’s license number (if you have one), tax returns, and bank account information, such as how much you have in savings. If you are a dependent student, you’ll need the same information for your parents, too.

When you complete the form, you’ll list the schools you want the information sent to. The schools will use the details provided by you on the FAFSA to determine what aid you’re eligible for. They will then send you an award letter detailing the grants and other financial aid you can receive. The FAFSA lets you apply for the Pell Grant, as well as for other federal aid programs, such as work-study and student loans. Your school might also use it to award you state grant money or scholarships.

If you qualify for a Pell Grant, it can make school much more affordable to you and can help you avoid taking out loans. The financial aid offices at Orange Technical College want to ensure that you receive all of the aid you’re eligible for. Visit one of our campuses or contact us today to learn more.


  1. “Who owes all that student debt? And who’d benefit if it were forgiven?”, Brookings Institute,
  2. “Celebrating Success: 40 Years of Pell Grants”, Department of Education,
  3. “Federal Pell Grants”, Federal Student Aid,
  4. “Grants”, Federal Student Aid,