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Is Pell Abacus for me? +

If you are thinking about going to college and qualify for Free or Reduced Lunch, Pell Abacus is the tool for you. Pell Abacus is a free tool that helps students get financial aid estimates directly from the colleges. You can compare college costs at more than 5,000 U.S. colleges.

Not sure if you qualify for Free or Reduced Lunch? Check out the Free and Reduced Lunch guidelines. If you don’t qualify, don’t worry! You can use our other tool College Abacus, to find out how much college will cost.

Do I have to be a U.S. Citizen?
No, but Pell Abacus results will only be accurate for students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Our tool doesn’t need your parents’ citizenship or immigration status, and we never ask.

Most schools do not give results for other statuses. If you are not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, you may still be eligible for financial aid from your state or college. We recommend you contact the college directly and visit your state’s website to find out more about financial aid requirements.

What about transfer or graduate students?
Unfortunately, most colleges only provide aid estimates for first-time, first-year students. If you’re a transfer student or past your first year, you will need to visit the school’s official website to see if they offer financial aid estimates. Same goes for any graduate programs.

What's the best way to use Pell Abacus? +

We suggest using Pell Abacus while making your list of colleges to apply to. Most college counselors recommend applying to at least 6 schools — 2 safety schools (you are sure you can get in), 2 match schools (you feel good about getting in), and 1 reach school (you hope to get in). Pell Abacus can help you determine if the school of your dreams will be affordable after going through the application process. Sometimes an expensive private school can be just as affordable as a state college.

What is included in my financial aid estimate? +

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Sticker Price is what a school advertises as the full cost.
This includes tuition, housing, books, and other expenses.

Total Aid is how much the school estimates you’ll get in financial aid to attend.
This aid can come from different sources, including the government, the college, and sometimes scholarships provided by your state. This is money you won’t pay back and never includes loans.

Estimated Net Price is how much you’re likely to pay out-of-pocket for your first year of school.
You can cover your net price using cash, savings, scholarships, work study, jobs, or student loans.

How do I save my financial aid estimates? +

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First, you'll need an account. To create an account, you need to have a working email address. We promise no spam emails.

Once you're signed in, click the star next to the school's name to save the result to your My Schools page. Then sign in whenever you want to compare all the schools you've searched and saved.

How do I change my answers? +

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Search for the school you are interested in and answer the questions. Click the Back button if you want to change one or two of your answers. Click the Review button after all the questions are answered to view or change your selections.

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You can also change your answers by clicking on the Review Answers button when you get your financial aid estimate.


Note: changing answers will carry over to all the schools you search and can change your financial aid estimates.

How do I make sure I get the financial aid package shown on Pell Abacus? +

Step 1 : Fill out your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Know your deadlines! Submit your FAFSA as early as possible to get your best possible aid package.

Step 2 : If you’re applying in-state, make sure you know your state’s financial aid opportunities.

Step 3 : Check the school’s official website. They may require you to fill out a College Scholarship Service (CSS) Profile in addition to the FAFSA.

Why are some schools not included on Pell Abacus? +

We currently have over 5,000 schools on Pell Abacus. Schools that haven’t been added may be missing for a few possible reasons. Maybe your school is updating their net price calculator. Maybe we haven't added that college to our database.

Send us a message and we’ll figure it out.

Why doesn’t Pell Abacus ask me any income or financial questions? +

We estimate your family’s finances for you. Do you know what an IRA is or how much your parents made in dividends last year? We don’t ask questions that you may not know the answer to. We know discussing college and finances with your parents can be hard, so we made Pell Abacus easy to use by yourself.

We ask simple questions about you and your family, crunch the numbers based on our research, then send those numbers directly to the schools to get your estimate. If you want to enter your actual financial information, you can do so with our other tool, College Abacus.

Why are you named Pell Abacus? +

The Pell Grant is administered to low-income students by the U.S. Department of Education. Just like the Pell Grant, Pell Abacus is designed to make things easier for students from all backgrounds to realize they can afford college. We only show estimates for free money that never needs to be paid back.

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