Can I Get a Pell Grant for Graduate School?

by Lainie Petersen ; Updated July 27, 2017

Pell grants provide crucial financial support for undergraduate students who do not already hold a degree. While graduate students are ineligible for Pell grants, there is an exception for college graduates who want to pursue a teaching career and need to complete an undergraduate teaching certification program.

The Pell Grant Program

The federal government provides Pell grants to students who need financial assistance to complete their education. To qualify for a Pell grant, the student must demonstrate financial need, be enrolled in an undergraduate program and cannot already hold a bachelor's degree.

The Teaching Exception

Individuals who already hold a bachelor's degree but who need to go back to school to earn post-baccalaureate teaching certification may be eligible for a Pell grant. Not all teaching certification programs qualify, however. According to the Department of Education, the program must meet the following criteria to qualify the student for a Pell grant:

  • The school offering the program must not also offer a bachelor's degree in education.
  • The program must be considered an undergraduate program.
  • The coursework cannot lead to a graduate degree.

Students should contact a school's financial aid department to determine whether its teaching certificate program meets the qualifications for Pell grant assistance.

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About the Author

Lainie Petersen writes about business, real estate and personal finance, drawing on 25 years experience in publishing and education. Petersen's work appears in Money Crashers, Selling to the Masses, and in Walmart News Now, a blog for Walmart suppliers. She holds a master's degree in library science from Dominican University.

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