The federal government awards Pell Grants of up to $5,550 per year for undergraduate students with significant financial need. When a family includes two undergraduates, they might both be able to get Pell Grants. It all depends on the family's finances, which the students will both report on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
Qualifying for Pell
Eligibility for Pell Grants is based almost entirely on a student's estimated family contribution. This number is the federal government's assessment of how much the student and supporting family should be able to afford to spend on college each year. For the 2011 to 2012 school year, students with an EFC of $5,273 or less qualify for Pell Grants. The government awards Pell Grants to all qualifying students, regardless of whether they live in the same household.
Divided Family Contribution
Having two students pursue an undergraduate degree simultaneously often increases their chances of qualifying for Pell Grants because the family contribution must be divided between the students. In the case of married students, the FAFSA assesses their ability as a couple to pay for school and divides that in half to find each of their EFCs. When siblings attend college at the same time, the FAFSA divides the parent contribution equally between them and adds each student's contribution to determine each student's EFC.
Applying for Aid
Each student in the household must fill out a separate FAFSA to be eligible for Pell Grants and other types of aid. Since the forms are likely to have a lot of overlap, each additional application will be easier to fill out. When dependent siblings fill out a FAFSA, they will have the same parent information but will each report their own personal income and assets, which can affect their aid. Each student gets a separate student aid report that lists the student's EFC.
When two people in the same household know they both want to get an undergraduate degree, they can maximize their financial aid by attending school during the same years. Parents might encourage an older sibling to take a gap year to travel, participate in an internship, volunteer or save money for college. These activities will increase the overlap in the number of college years shared with the younger sibling. Likewise, young couples getting married might want to pursue their degrees at the same time rather than having one spouse work while the other attends college.