Federal Pell Grant

For students, the Pell Grant the increases the affordability of post-secondary education. The Pell Grant is a financial award given to eligible students to help pay for college.

They may use the fnds for tuition, supplies as well as room and board. The grant does not need to be repaid if the student continues to meet Pell Grant eligibility guidelines.

The program is a needs-based program, and as such, Pell Grants are awarded to the exceptionally needed. As such, students must know if they meet the income guidelines outlined by the program. Requestors must apply for the grant by submitting the Free Application for Financial Aid (FAFSA). They must provide information about their family’s financial situation when applying. Here is all the information you need to apply for Pell Grant funds to further your education.

What is a Pell Grant?

The Pell Grant reduces the financial burden of post-secondary education. The Pell Grant, not a loan, but rather a gift provided by the U.S. Department of Education. As such, in most cases, it does not need to be repaid. There are specific instances however that may require a student to repay a Pell Grant. Students may use the Pell Grant disbursement for the following items:

  • Tuition
  • Fees
  • Supplies
  • Room and Board

Related Article: Federal Student Aid Amounts

Students must apply for Pell Grant funds and meet all eligibility criteria to qualify.

What are the Pell Grant eligibility guidelines?

Students must meet general federal financial aid eligibility requirements to qualify for a Pell Grant. Specifically, they must be a U.S. citizen or an eligible non-citizen. They must also have a valid Social Security Number and be registered with the selective service if they are a male.

To qualify, students must hot have earned their first bachelor’s degree. Students must also be enrolled at least half-time in an approved post-secondary program. The U.S. Department of Education guidelines state that individuals do not qualify for the FAFSA Pell Grant if they are incarcerated.

What is the maximum Pell Grant amount?

The maximum a student may receive for a Pell Grant is $6,095 per year. The U.S. Department of Education calculates the Pell grant maximum amount awarded a variety of factors including the cost of attending the expected family contribution and enrollment status. The U.S. Department of Education uses the following formula to calculate a student’s financial need and determine the Pell Grant income limit:

Cost of Attendance (COA) minus Expected Family Contribution (EFC) = Financial Need.

Cost of Attendance

The COA represents the amount the student must pay for schooling. The amount includes tuition, fees, books, supplies as well as room and board. In some instances, students may include dependent care in the cost of attendance.

Expected Family Contribution

Per federal guidelines, the Pell Grant program must determine a student’s household income. The EFC is a number calculated based on federal guidelines. The program calculates the EFC using financial information such as income, assets, and Social Security benefits. The figure does not represent the amount a student must pay to receive financial aid. The U.S. Department of Education uses the number to determine how much funding a student is eligible to receive from a Pell Grant.

How does the EFC affect the Pell Grant amount?

Per Pell Grant requirements, a student’s EFC is based on their household’s income. In general, the higher an applicant’s household income, the less they are eligible to receive for the Pell Grant. In some cases, the student qualifies for an automatic zero EFC. To be eligible for an automatic zero EFC, students must meet one of the following criteria:

  • The income threshold is $25,000 or less
  • Independent students without a spouse
  • Dependent of a parent who receives Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
  • Independent student with dependents other than a spouse

How to Apply for a Pell Grant

Students must submit a Pell Grant application using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) found on the Federal Student Aid website. Applicants must have a login to access the Pell Grant application. Students who do not have a login must create an account to begin the application. The FAFSA collects the information necessary to determine a student’s EFC. When applying, students must provide information for themselves and their parents.

Student Information

Before beginning the application, students should gather the documents necessary to complete the form. Materials that may be required include Social Security card, driver’s license number, alien registration card, income tax forms and bank accounts. The Pell Grant application requires the student to enter the following information:

  • Full Name
  • Social Security Number
  • Date of Birth
  • Citizenship status
  • Current education level
  • Income

The application also requires students to list FAFSA school codes for several schools they wish to receive a copy of their FAFSA. Once complete, the student and their parent(s) must sign the application.

Parents’ Information

As the Pell Grant must calculate the Expected Family Income, applicants must provide information about their parents, specifically:

  • Marital status
  • Names of each parent
  • Social Security Number for each parent
  • Citizenship status of each parent
  • Income of each parent
  • Tax information

Do you have to pay back a Pell Grant?

In most cases, the Pell Grant does not need to be repaid. However, some instances would require the student to repay the Pell Grant funds. Common reasons a student may need to repay are:

Change in Enrollment Status

Per program requirements, students must be enrolled at least half-time. If the student takes fewer classes than required or withdraws, they may be expected to return the funds issued to them.

Change in Financial Status

The amount awarded through the Pell Grant depends on a student’s financial situation. If a student or their parent(s) financial status changes, they must report those changes. The change could make the student ineligible for a Pell Grant award.

Related Article: FSEOG Grant

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