What is there to know about the Pell Grant?

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Pell Grants are a form of federal financial aid award to undergraduate students who demonstrate an exceptional level of financial need.

Families around the world are considering the affordability of colleges and should be aware that the federal Pell Grant is the first form of aid a student with exceptional financial need can expect to receive.

First, what is a Pell Grant?The Pell Grant is need-based federal financial aid that usually does not have to be repaid.

The U.S. Department of Education awards Pell Grants to specifically help eligible low-income college students pay for college costs. These costs include tuition, fees, room and board, and other educational expenses.

To apply for the grant, students have to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The FAFSA is the vehicle through which students move to apply for aid.

Do Pell Grants have to be paid back?Pell Grants do not need to be repaid. As such, they are a significant source of aid.

Unlike loans that do need to be paid back, Pell Grants do not need to be paid back.

Students can also have access to other forms of aid such as federal work-study programs, that allow students to work to receive an hourly wage.

The first step to receiving a Pell Grant is completing and submitting the FAFSA. A family’s information on the FAFSA, including income and number of children enrolled in college, generates a number known as the student’s expected family contribution, known as the EFC, to determine whether he or she is eligible for a Pell Grant.

How much aid is the Pell Grant?
The amount of Pell Grant a student receives depends on his or her EFC, the cost of attendance at the college or university, the amount of the academic year and the student’s enrollment status as part time or full time.

Students must submit the FAFSA to continue receiving Pell Grant funds each year. FAFSA information may change each year which means a student’s EFC could change. Changes in the EFC can lead to different Pell Grant award amounts.

The Pell Grant amount also depends on the college that a student attends. A Pell Grant could cover nearly the entire cost of attendance at a two-year community college however, it may only cover partial costs at some four-year higher education institutions.

The amount also depends on the budget that Congress passes annually.

Who can apply for the Pell Grant?
Student eligibility does not vary across schools, as long as the higher education institutions participate in the federal student aid program. Around 6,500 institutions participate.

Students have to demonstrate exceptional financial need on the FAFSA, be a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen and have not yet received a bachelor’s, graduate or professional degree.

Graduate students are not typically eligible for Pell Grant aid. In some cases, some students seeking postbaccalaureate teacher certification may be eligible.

Students who are incarcerated in a federal or state institution, or who are convicted of certain crimes, are generally not eligible for the Pell Grant except through an experimental Second-Chance program that partners with 130 colleges to allow prisoners to take college classes. Once an individual is released, eligibility limits may be removed.

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