Pell Grants

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What is a Pell Grant?

Pell Grants are a federal government grant that is awarded to financially disadvantaged students to provide funds for their undergraduate post secondary education. Unlike a loan, this grant does not need to be repaid by the student. Eligibility for this grant is based on specific criteria, including financial need. The award amount for a grant depends on a number of factors, including level of financial need and whether the student is undertaking part time or full time education. Around 1.2 million students are awarded the grant each year.

Pell Grant Eligibility

This program supports students who have financial disadvantages to acquire a higher level of education. The majority of Pell Grants are offered to students undertaking undergraduate education – in other words, students who have not yet attained a bachelor’s degree. Only graduate students who are pursuing accredited teaching programs may also qualify for this grant.

Other eligibility criteria include:

– Student must be a US citizen or have permanent residency
– Student must have a high school diploma or General Education Development certificate
– Student must attend a participating post secondary institution
– Students with past Pell grant overpayment or a defaulted Federal Stafford Loan cannot apply
– Students who have a scholarship covering 100 percent of their tuition costs also are not eligible

Pell Grants

Applying for a grant

To be considered for the grant, students need to complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and submit it by the deadline, which can vary amongst different institutions. On the form, information about family and student income and assets needs to be provided, which is used to work out financial need. Students living on their own will have their financial need determined by their own income and expenses. The student’s school code also needs to be including when submitting the form. You should be notified of the results of your application by your school.

Pell Grant Award amounts

The award amount is worked out by a student’s tuition costs, level of financial need, part time or full time education, as well as partial or whole academic year enrollment. They are also influenced by the year the grant is awarded as well as the funding of a specific program.The maximum amount for Pell grants, as of 2010, was $5,550. The maximum award amount is usually issued to students who are considered to have the greatest need.

Payment of grants

Grants are issued to schools first, who then distribute the grant to qualified students. Students can receive the funds in one of two ways:
1. The school pays the student the award amounts directly, or;
2. The school gives monetary credit to the student’s Federal Pell Grant account.

The grant usually gives money for the duration of a typical undergraduate degree. Students are paid for each semester, which generally means twice each academic year. The money is used for college tuition and expenses. Students need to maintain a satisfactory GPA to remain eligible for the grant.

In addition to the Pell Grant, students are also allowed to receive other financial aid, scholarships and grants.

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