Pell Grant Amount – How Much Can I Get?
The Pell Grant was named for U.S. Senator Claiborne Pell, who was a Democrat from Rhode Island. At first it was called the Basic Educational Opportunity Grant and was later shortened to its current title of Pell Grant in honor of the senator. It was enacted by the Higher Education Act of 1965 by then U.S. President Johnson.
When a student is getting ready to attend college and is counting on financial aid such as the federal Pell Grant, it is vital that they know the minimum and maximum Pell Grant amount and how to quality for it. For the 2011-2012 school years, the maximum Pell Grant amount is $5,550 and the minimum is set at $555. The Pell Grant is a free monetary award that the student doesn’t have to pay back like you do a student loan. It is usually distributed to low income students and is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education.
Other changes besides the Pell Grant amount in 2011 include allowing payment for less college enrollment hours, removing some of the previous question on the application form, allowing students with a higher income to apply, and making it mandatory that the funds from the Pell Grant award are distributed to the schools by the 7th day of the school session.
Pell Grant Amount – Maximum Qualification
How much of a Pell Grant award that you receive is based in part on the number of classes that you intend to take at your approved college or university. There are awards for one-quarter time, one-half time, three-quarter time and full time. If you are fully qualified otherwise, the amount that you get will be $5,550 for full time, $4163 for three-quarter time, $2,775 for half time and $1,388 for one quarter time. The minimum for all of these is the $555 if you don’t meet the maximum qualification ranges.
The FAFSA is a Key Factor
The information you report on your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is used to calculate your Expected Family Contribution or EFC. The FAFSA contains the financial and family information needed to calculate your EFC score. These are figured out via certain set formulas set by the federal government. Your Pell grant award is determined by these factors, along with the cost of your classes, the status of your class hours (full, part time, etc) and the EFC score.
Pell Grant Amount – EFC is also a Key Factor
When it comes to the EFC, it’s better to get a low score if you want to meet Pell Grant qualifications for the highest amount. Plus, the higher the cost of your college, the more likely you will be able to qualify for a Pell Grant. On average, most people end up qualifying for somewhere around half the full amount of a Pell Grant, but it all depends on your own situation.
The EFC score measures a person’s financial strengths, their taxed and untaxed assets, and unemployment or other benefits, family size, and if any other family members are attending college. All of these get mixed together to help decide the score and ultimately the Pell Grant award amount.
A Pell Grant applicant must also be an undergraduate student and not already have a bachelor’s degree. They must also be a U.S. citizen or otherwise eligible, plus have a GED or high school diploma or be able to show they can benefit from being allowed to participate in the program.
Pell Grant Amount – How is the money paid out?
A Pell Grant award can be received from more than one college and can be paid out either directly to the school or part to the school and part to the student. The school is responsible for informing the student how much his or her Pell Grant award is and how and when it will be paid out. The school must disperse the monies at least once per semester.
The bottom line is that if you believe that you may qualify for a Pell Grant, and then be sure to fill out all the necessary forms prior to the start of your school so you will know in time to figure it into your financial plans.