Pell Grants

Pell Grants

Pell grants are sums of money given to help low-income students pay for college.  The grants are government sponsored and, unlike student loans, they never have to be repaid.

If you’re eligible for a Pell grant, you’ll receive up to $5,500 (as of 2011).  This money can be used towards tuition, book fees, room and board, school supplies, transportation and/or childcare expenses.

The qualifications for the grant are straight forward. The most important qualification is a demonstrable financial need.   You also have to be a U.S. citizen (or eligible noncitizen) with a valid social security number.  Other qualifications include:

  • Having a high school diploma or GED
  • Enrollment for your FIRST bachelors degree (or other qualifying program)
  • Current with any open federal loans
  • Registered for the draft (if applicable)

Here’s exactly what you need to do to get a Pell Grant:

First, fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form.  You can submit the FAFSA form for free, either by using the online form or printing and mailing it to the Federal Student Aid Programs office.

The information you supply on the FAFSA form is used to calculate your Expected Family Contribution (EFC).  The EFC is subtracted from your total college fees, and the different is considered to be your financial need.

Next, keep your eyes peeled for the Student Aid Report (SAR), which you’ll receive by mail. Your SAR reveals whether or not you’ve qualified and how much to expect in bestowment.

Although the Pell grant is honored at roughly 5,100 different institutions, some schools don’t accept federal financial aid programs.  Before applying for the grant, take the time to call your chosen school’s financial aid department to verify their participation.