Education Encyclopedia - StateUniversity.com » Paying for College

Applying for a Federal Pell Grant

federal pell grant

A Federal Pell Grant is a form of financial aid for students. Around two thirds of full-time college students are eligible to receive some sort of financial aid, and some will receive Federal Pell Grants. This money is provided by the government so that students can attend college, and as it is a grant and not a loan, it doesn’t need to be repaid. Students who successfully apply for this grant will receive a set amount each year.

Who Can Apply for a Federal Pell Grant?

You can apply for this grant if you are an undergraduate who is studying for your first bachelor’s degree. You must either be a US citizen or an eligible non-citizen, you must already have a high school diploma or a GED, and you must be willing to demonstrate that you will benefit from this program. You can only receive Federal Pell grant funds from one school at a time. In general, it is recommended that everyone apply for this grant.

The US Department of Education has a standard formula to assess all information supplied, including the family’s net income and assets, household size, and the number of family members attending post-secondary institutions. This information gives a number called the Expected Family Contribution, and this determines your eligibility.

How Can I Apply for a Federal Pell Grant?

It’s very easy to apply for a Federal Pell Grant, as you just need to fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), and you can complete the whole process online at this government website http://www.fafsa.ed.gov. You’ll get online instructions for each question, and if you are still confused you can chat live online with a representative. You can check the status of your application on the website, and it should take around 7 to 10 days to be processed. You should apply for your grant as soon as possible, but no earlier than January 1 and no later than June 30.

This website also has valuable information about deadlines for filling in this form. You can also find your college’s school code and additional information about your college. Of course you can still apply on paper, and can get additional help with the form from the Federal Student Aid Information Center by calling 1 800-433-3243. Your financial aid administrator at your college should also be able to help.

How Much is the Federal Pell Grant Worth?

For the academic year 2011 to 2012 the award is worth a maximum of $5,550, although this amount is dependent on several factors. It is dependent on your Expected Family Contribution number, the cost of your tuition, fees, room and board, supplies, and the amount of time you will spend in college, i.e. will you be full or part time.

The maximum award Pell Grant is given to any student whose parent or guardian died as a result of military service in Afghanistan or Iraq after September 11, 2001. Applicants need to be under the age of 24 and enrolled in at least a part-time college course at the time of their parents or guardians death.

If you received your first Pell Grant on or after July 1, 2008 you are only eligible to receive it for up to 18 semesters.

How Will the Federal Pell Grant be Paid?

The Federal Pell Grant is paid direct to the institution you will be attending. Your college can credit Pell Grant funds to your account, or it can pay you directly, or even use a combination of both methods. It’s up to the college to notify you in writing as to the amount of the grant and when the payments are to be made. Your college must issue payments at least once a term, and if you are at a college that doesn’t have formally defined terms you must be paid at least twice every academic year.

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