What is the Federal Pell Grant?
If you are studying in the United States and were wondering, “how can I get financial help to pay for college?” you are on the right webpage. This is the place to learn about what is a Pell Grant and how it can help you pay for college. A Pell Grant is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education for U.S. citizens and eligible residents studying in the United States for their first undergraduate degree. It is issued based on the financial need of the student as well as the costs involved of the particular academic institution of the student. The maximum amount that can be awarded in an academic year to any single student is $5,500. The first step to apply for a Pell Grant is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. You may either print a hard copy or fill out the form online. For the online version you will have to create a Personal Identification Number (PIN).
Recently the FAFSA’s website has also developed a way for the student to create a profile in order to not only apply for a Pell Grant, but also to search for suitable career choices, colleges, and scholarships. The student could even opt to use the profile information to auto-populate the fields on the FAFSA form as well as electronic college admission applications. In addition, the student could also figure out the estimated family contribution (EFC) which will requires the tax returns that the household filed with the Internal Revenue Service.
Do I Have to Repay a Pell Grant?
Since this is a grant, and not a loan, the money does not have to be repaid. As the Pell Grant is awarded every academic year, students are required to apply through FAFSA each year that they wish to see if they can qualify for a state or federal college grant. Unlike most scholarships and grants, the Pell Grant is not based on academic performance, but a high school diploma or General Equivalency Diploma (GED) is required. The Pell Grant then is awarded to the students with the greatest proven financial need. A student may receive only one Pell Grant for one college per year.
If you apply online. You will receive a response via e-mail within three to five business days after your FAFSA forms have been processed. The e-mail will have a secure link so you can take a look at your Student Aid Report (SAR) online. You may have to check your spam folder unless you have added the e-mail address FederalStudentAidFAFSA@cpsemail.ed.gov to your inbox.
If you apply for a Pell Grant using a paper application and do not provide an e-mail address, you will receive a response within seven to ten business days after your FAFSA forms have been processed.
Either way, the data you place on your application forms will be automatically sent to the colleges that you listed on your application. Once you have submitted your application for a Pell Grant, the US Department of Education will analyze the data to determine your eligibility. So when you are admitted into one of the colleges you’ve listed, you will check with the college financial officers regarding the administration of the Pell Grant.
Once you are informed of your eligibility to receive Pell Grant funds, you will want to check with the college you will be attending to find out how much money you will receive and how often. Some colleges provide the money in the form of a check to the student while others deduct the money directly from what the student owes the college.
Those who are eligible for the Pell Grant and still need assistance paying for college, should also apply for the FSEOG.
Generally, the college or university where the Pell Grant recipient is attending classes will administer the Pell Grant funds two times during the academic year, unless the college is operating on a trimester or quarterly system. In such cases it may be administered with each new academic course period throughout the academic year.
Do I Have to Apply Every Year for a Pell Grant?
Don’t forget, a student must apply for a Pell Grant every academic year during the student’s undergraduate studies. The Pell Grant is not automatically renewable. The same process must be taken every year by updating the student’s FAFSA profile and sending in a new application. It is best to start the application process for a Pell Grant in early January. High school students should thus apply in January of their senior year in high school, while undergraduate students should re-apply each January until they graduate.
All the information is also available in Spanish. Hay también una versión en español, disponible con un clic aquí.
Thanks to this Pell Grant information, college students will not only be able to apply for the Pell Grant, but be on their way for other sources of federal, state, and private financial aid to help them pay for college.