How Many Credit Hours Is Full-Time on a Pell Grant?

by Kristie Sweet
Smiling young college student on campus with books in arms.

A federal Pell Grant offers students money for attending college, funding they are not required to repay. The amount awarded depends upon student financial need, costs for school attendance and the number of semesters and hours students take. To be considered full-time for a Pell Grant, a student must generally enroll in at least 12 credit hours.

Pell Grant Determination

To obtain full-time status and therefore receive more Pell Grant money, typically applicants should sign up for at least 12 credits. Students taking fewer credits receive a prorated amount of money. For instance, a student taking 6 credits will likely be awarded half the money that same student would receive if attending full time. The 12-credit requirement for full-time status applies to both standard semester and quarter systems. However, schools' financial aid offices may set their own standards for what constitutes full time, which may be measured in credits, weeks or hours of instruction. For instance, Western Governors University considers all students to be full time regardless of how many classes or credits -- which they call competency units -- or what program they enroll in. Students may only use Pell Grant funds for 30 credits total of developmental or remedial work. If you sign up for 12 credits and then drop below full-time status, you may have to repay part of your grant money.

About the Author

Kristie Sweet has been writing professionally since 1982, most recently publishing for various websites on topics like health and wellness, and education. She holds a Master of Arts in English from the University of Northern Colorado.

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