If you're working to help pay for your college education -- or if you're just thinking about taking a job -- it's smart to consider the impact your wages will have on your Pell Grant. The income you earn this year may affect the amount of your Pell Grant for the next academic year, depending on the nature of your job.
Your eligibility for a Pell Grant, as well as the amount of your Pell award, is based on the information you provide on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid Form. You must provide your income on the FAFSA. If you’re married, you also may have to provide your spouse’s income. The Department of Education uses income as a factor in calculating your expected contribution to your own educational costs. Financial aid from the federal government and other sources is designed to help bridge the gap between your expected contribution and your total cost of attending college. Whether work income affects your Pell Grant depends on the type of job you have.
Federal Work-Study Employment
If you have a federal work-study job, you can stop stressing. The Department of Education will not take the income from your federal work-study job into account when determining your eligibility for a Pell Grant or the amount of your Pell award. You still must report your federal work-study income on your next FAFSA, but it will have no affect on your Pell Grant for the next academic year.
Other Types of Employment
Many colleges offer work-study programs that are not subsidized by the federal government. Income from a non-federal work-study job may affect your Pell Grant. You must report the income on your FAFSA, and the Department of Education will take it into account when determining your Pell eligibility and award amount. Likewise, the Department of Education also will consider the income you earn working for a private employer.
Impact of Employment Income
Work income has no effect on your current Pell Grant. Pell funds have already been awarded to you for this academic year based, in part, on your income last year. Work income is unlikely to affect your eligibility for next year, unless you're making a boatload of money. However, if you work for a private or a nonfederal work-study employer, your income will affect the amount of your Pell Grant. For many independent students, the financial impact of work income likely will be minor because student income is only one of many factors the Department of Education considers when calculating your expected contribution and determining the amount of your Pell Grant.
Grygor Scott has written professionally since 1991, with a focus on law, government, food and travel. His work has appeared in "New York Resident" and on several websites. The author of more than 20 nonfiction books, Scott graduated with honors from the University of North Carolina School of Law.