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Eligibility for Pell Grants to expand for many students after changes to FAFSA

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More students will be eligible to receive Pell Grants under the upcoming updates to the Free Application For Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form which is expected to be released by Dec. 31 after a delay, according to the U.S. Department of Education (DOE).

The DOE released data on Nov. 15 that showed the updated FAFSA form will connect 610,000 new students to Federal Pell Grants. In addition, 1.5 million more students will be able to receive the maximum Pell Grant.

With the changes to the 2024-25 form, more than 5.2 million students will be eligible for the maximum Pell Grant. 

Pell Grants are awarded to low-income undergraduate students based on their need.

“Pell Grants are a critical lifeline for millions of students and families to attend college or career school and pursue the American dream,” said Federal Student Aid Chief Operating Officer Richard Cordray. “We are deeply committed to making sure students from all backgrounds can easily apply for and receive the federal student aid they need through the better FAFSA form. In every state and the District of Columbia, more students than ever before will benefit from greater access to Pell Grants.”

In North Carolina, a total of 16,489 more students will be eligible for Federal Pell Grants while a total of 45,852 more students will be eligible for the maximum Pell Grant, according to the DOE. 

The new FAFSA changes include updates to student aid calculations that will guarantee more student eligibility for Pell Grants. 

Along with these updates, starting in the 2023-24 award year, incarcerated students are also eligible for Federal Pell Grants and some students will get lifetime eligibility for Federal Pell Grants restored if their school misled them or closed while they were enrolled.  

The updates to the FAFSA form include fewer questions for families to fill out. The changes come after congress passed the FAFSA Simplification Act to streamline the often lengthy process that goes along with applying for financial aid for college. 

“When students and families fill out the better FAFSA form, they will find that applying for college financial aid is simpler, easier, and faster than ever before,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona.