There are many financial aid resources available to students coming from low-income families. The Pell Grant is a significant source for postsecondary education funding because it comes in the form of a grant, not a loan. This means students are not required to repay the money upon graduation. Choosing to apply for a Pell Grant will aid in keeping the student’s amount of debt upon graduation as low as possible.
Requirements for the Pell Grant have continued to evolve since its inception in 1972. Recently, President Obama’s administration has made revisions to who may qualify for a Pell Grant, under the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2010 (SAFRA), which ultimately increases the number of students who may be helped by this aid. Pell Grants may be granted at approximately 5400 schools nationwide including career colleges, community colleges or 4-year colleges or universities.
Students automatically apply for a Pell Grant when they complete their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application. To obtain a FAFSA application, you may request one by mail, pick one up at your school or more conveniently, fill it out through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Act fast and apply for your FAFSA as early in the new year as possible, as most college financial aid runs on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Pell Grant Breakdown
The grant amount received is largely dependent on your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) (What is your EFC?) because the more you demonstrate a need for aide, the more likely you are to receive the full amount. More simply put, the closer your EFC is to zero, the larger your award will be. Many factors are weighed in to determine your award amount; the most important of which is your enrollment status. Other contributing factors include cost of attendance (COA) and whether or not you plan on taking classes for the full academic year.
Here is a handy check-list that can help you determine your Pell Grant eligibility:
- You must be a US citizen, US national or eligible non-citizen. Immigrants who are in the US as conditional permanent residents such as, refugees, asylum granted, paroled or an entrant from Cuba or Haiti are also allowed to apply.
- It is required that you be enrolled in an undergraduate degree program. They will sometimes be given to those pursuing their first professional degree, such as a nursing degree.
- The program you are enrolled in must provide you with a certificate, diploma or degree at an institution participating in the Pell Grant Program.
- You must not be incarcerated in a state or Federal penitentiary.
- Your eligibility might be hindered if you have been convicted for the possession or sale of illegal drugs while receiving financial aid.
- If you are a male between the ages of 18 and 25, you must have enrolled in the Selective Service.
- You must sign an agreement stating that you will only use the funds towards education, you don’t have any outstanding charges with other Federal grants and you have not defaulted on any other student loans.
Keep in mind these rules apply to every type of federal financial aid. It might be helpful to contact your college’s financial aid department to help determine your eligibility. In certain instances, they may be able to pull strings or at the very least, provide guidance on requirements that might not be easily understood.
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Understanding Obama's Pell Grant Revisions
Pell Grant Can Be Used for Summer College Courses, Starting in Summer 2010
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