A Federal Pell Grant, unlike a loan, does not have to be repaid. Pell Grants are typically awarded only to undergraduate students who have not earned a bachelor's degree. Under certain conditions, students enrolled in a postbaccalaureate teacher credential program may be eligible to receive Federal Pell Grants. For many students, Federal Pell Grants provide a foundation of financial aid to which other aid may be added.
To determine if you're eligible, the U.S. Department of Education uses a standard formula, established by Congress, to evaluate the information you report when you apply. The formula produces an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) number. Your Student Aid Report (SAR) contains this number and will tell you if you are eligible. You will receive an email notification of your SAR in about one week when you file your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) electronically. You will receive your SAR at your home address about four weeks after mailing your FAFSA to the federal processor. You need to submit a FAFSA to find out if you're eligible for a Federal Pell Grant and you'll need to complete the form every year you're enrolled at a CSU if you want to remain eligible for federal aid.
The maximum award for the 2016-17 award year (July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017) is $5,815. The maximum award for the 2017-18 award year (July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018) will be $5,920.
How much you get will depend on your EFC, your cost of attendance, the period of time (number of semesters or quarters) in which you enroll, and the number of units in which you enroll for each term (whether you are part-time or full-time). You may not receive Pell Grant funds from more than one school at a time. Students may only receive up to six years of full eligibility or its equivalent determined by the Federal Department of Education.
Your school can credit the Pell Grant funds to your school account to pay for tuition and fees, pay you directly (usually by electronic transfer to your bank account), or combine these methods. The school must tell you in writing how and when you'll be paid and how much your award will be. Schools must pay you at least once per term (semester or quarter).
First, you will need to stay enrolled in an undergraduate course of study in a U.S. university or college and meet satisfactory standards of academic progress as well as other eligibility criteria. You can find out more about these criteria from your CSU campus.
You'll also need to complete the FAFSA form every year you want to receive aid.
Once you've earned your bachelor's degree, or you have used up the 12 semesters (about six years) of eligibility, you will not be able to receive a Federal Pell Grant.