A convicted felon who is currently serving prison time in a federal or state facility is not eligible for a Pell Grant, according to the U.S. government's federal aid website. Once time has been served, most restrictions are lifted, but some exceptions apply.
If a felon has been convicted of a drug related offense, Pell Grant eligibility is limited. Felons with drug-related convictions may also be subject to return any previously granted federal money, according to the office of Federal Student Aid. Those who must serve an involuntary civil commitment for a sexual offense will be denied. Felons currently serving in prison may apply for federal financial aid before their sentences are completed to ensure that funding is present upon release. It is important to note that applications for federal aid, such as Pell Grants, are open to all U.S. citizens; priority is often given to those applicants without convictions.
Low income students are eligible for Pell Grants, which don't have to be repaid, according to About.com. The first step in the application process is to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, to ensure that potential funding from the government as well as the school of choice is received. Grants range from several hundred to several thousand dollars and are given based on financial need, school tuition, enrollment status and length of attendance.