Pell Grant – Offers College Finance Options for Students
In today’s fast paced world, there are many students who want to go to college, but don’t have the money to pay for all of it. These students can look to the federal government and see if they meet the criteria for Pell Grant eligibility. College can be a very expensive prospect, but statistics show that nearly two thirds of pupils are using some sort of financial aid in the form of grants or loans. One of these is a grant from the federal government called a Pell Grant.
What is a Pell Grant?
It is a gift of money that unlike a loan, the person getting the grant doesn’t have to pay back. If someone is eligible for a College Pell grant, then they normally get a certain amount of funding every year to use to help offset the cost of college tuition. If you want to apply for a Pell Grant, then you have to first find out if you are eligible. Normally, Pell Grants are given to low income students who meet a certain cut off in eligibility. Grants can be used at thousands of eligible colleges and institutions.
How to Tell if You are Eligible
In order to see if you meet the requirements, the U.S. Department of Education has specific rules and regulations that tell which persons are eligible through the usage of a special formula called the Expected Family Contribution. It takes at least two to three weeks for the EFC to be processed and for you to hear if you were accepted into the grant program.
Some of these qualifications are:
- Be an undergraduate student without a bachelor’s degree
- Be a U.S. citizen or be otherwise eligible
- Have a high school diploma or GED
A common concern for students trying to get a Pell Grant is if they have to show their parent’s income or other data. It all depends on certain factors. For a few things, they don’t take into consideration that the potential student lives somewhere else, or if they are over 21, or even if their parents don’t count them on their income taxes. In order for you not to have to give your parent’s info, you must fit the following Pell Grant requirements:
- Be 24 years old or older
- Be married when you fill out the application for a Pell Grant
- Have a child that you provide 50 percent support for
- Have a dependant other than a child you provide 50 percent support for
- Are a military veteran
- Are an orphan or a ward of the court before you turned 18
If you don’t meet those qualification requirements, then you have to put down your parent’s income and other data on the application. Next, you have to fill out the EFC with the required data appearing on the Pell Grant application.
How much can I get?
If you are going to be applying for a Pell Grant, then you will want to know the maximum Pell Grant available. During the 2011-2012 school years, the most that a grant recipient could get from a Pell Grant was $5,550. How much that the student can get will depend on if they are going full or part time, as well as how much their college costs are and their own income and other information. Grant recipients can only get money for a single college location during one period of time.
How does the college get the funds?
Once you have applied for a Pell Grant and gotten approval, the money is paid right to the college or to the recipient themselves, depending which option is picked. If paid to the college, they have to reveal to you how the funds are used.
When do students apply for A Pell Grant?
When students apply for a Pell Grant they have to also fill out a form called a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which you can get on the Internet at www.fafsa.ed.gov or get a hard copy version at your college or institution or by calling the Federal Student Aid Information Center (FSAIC) at 800-4-FED-AID (433-3243). Your college can tell you the deadline for filling it out and sending it in.
Don’t delay when you get ready to apply for a Pell Grant, as they are given out on a first come and first served basis, so when the money runs out for the year, that is it. Make sure you have all the facts or paperwork you need to fill out the proper forms when you do decide to apply for a Pell Grant.
Another great informational link on premier college planning.
All in all, Pell Grants can be a very helpful tool to help you to pay for college classes. However, if you do not qualify, you still might be able to apply for other types of grants or loans.