Are you trying to find a way to afford your college education?
While there are many grants and scholarships you can apply for, none are as well known as the Federal Pell Grant. This grant provides students with the opportunity to not only fully fund their college education, but pay for additional costs of attending school, such as books, household expenses, and transportation.
If you are struggling to afford the rising cost of earning your degree, take a few moments to consider whether a Federal Pell Grant may be able to assist you.
What is a Pell Grant?
A Federal Pell Grant is an award of money from the government given to students attending college who demonstrate financial need. Unlike a loan, this type of award does not need to be repaid, although there are specific requirements that must be met in order for a student to obtain it.
Once the award is given to a student, he or she can use it any one of the 5,400 participating technical schools, colleges, and universities in the United States.
Eligibility – In order to be eligible for a Federal Pell Grant, a student must be a low-income undergraduate enrolled in or planning to attend a participating school. While most students will not qualify for a Pell Grant for post baccalaureate degrees, those earning a teaching degree may also be accepted for this award.
In order to qualify for this grant, students must:
- Demonstrate financial need.
- Have their high school diploma or GED.
- Be able to pass an ability-to-benefit, or ATB, test provided by Department of Education if you do not have a GED or high school diploma.
- Be a citizen of the United States with a valid social security number.
- Maintain a certain GPA once attending college.
- Must have not been convicted of the sale or possession of drugs while receiving the Pell grant in the past.
- Must not be in default on any federal student loans.
- Must fill out a federal FAFSA application at www.fafsa.ed.gov
Financial Aid Available
According to the U.S. Department of Education, the maximum amount given for a Pell Grant for the years 2011 and 2012 are $5,500.
The amount awarded to each student will vary though, depending on the following factors:
- The student’s expect family contribution, or EFC
- Cost of attendance for the school
- Whether the student is enrolled in school part-time or full-time
- Whether the student will attend school for a full academic year
- If the student has had a parent or guardian pass away during military service in either Iraq or Afghanistan after September 11, 2001
Applying for a Pell Grant
Anyone can apply for the Federal Pell Grant; the application is free. If you are unsure of how you will pay for college, visit www.fafsa.ed.gov. Here you can fill out the online version of the Free Application for Student Aid.
After you have completed the application, it will be reviewed by the U.S. Department of Education, and they will inform you whether you qualify for this type of financial assistance.
There several documents you will need when applying for a Pell Grant. Make sure to have these documents nearby and ready when you begin the application so you can provide the government with accurate information.
- Driver’s license
- Social security number
- Your income tax information for the previous year, if you are an independent student
- Your parent’s income tax information if you are still a dependent
- The name and location of your school
Because the government has a limited amount of resources, Pell Grants are considered “first come, first serve.” For this reason, it is essential for you to fill out your FAFSA as soon as possible. If you have last year’s taxes, you can begin filling out your application as soon as January 1st.
If you could use financial help financing your education, consider applying for a Pell Grant. This type of grant could help you earn your degree and put you on the path to a whole new chapter in your life.