Obtaining Federal student financial aid through your school is now easier than ever before. The process is simplified and the requirements are clearly stated. Still, there are some situations that are not explained in the general guidance booklets provided by schools. Given that the Pell Grant is the most common Federal Scholarship, it is perfectly normal for you to have additional questions regarding it. You should know what to do in case you take an extra college course.
The size of the Pell Grant you receive is determined by the number of credit hours and respectively by the number of courses you take. Students who have at least 12 credit hours per semester are entitled to receive the full amount of funding corresponding to their financial needs. Students with 6 credit hours per semester are considered to be on a half-time program. As a result, they receive a smaller amount of Pell Grant funding for their studies.
This means that you are entitled to receiving a larger Pell Grant, if you have less than 12 credit hours and you add extra courses to your program. Simply put, if you are a part-time student and you switch to full-time studies, you will be able to receive more money. However, if you are a full-time student and add some courses to your program, you might not be eligible for a larger Pell Grant. This is standard practice, but some schools may actually give more money to students in this situation. The important thing is that you can request the changes, so it is a good idea to give it a shot. Still, it is best to consult your school’s financial aid office for advice first.
The situation is different when you decide to enroll in a certificate course or other course that is not part of your degree. In this case, you are not eligible for extra Pell Grant funding, since you receive aid for your main program. Generally, you can get this scholarship for only one study program at the time. It can be a bachelor’s degree, an associates degree, a diploma program or a certificate course. The size of the grant is then determined based on the number of classes you have and on the number of credit hours you are earning. Still, if you have any money left from your Pell Grant, you can use it to pay for your extra course that is not part of your degree. This is definitely a beneficial option. You will not get into trouble since you will be spending the money for your education.
It is up to you to manage your finances as best as possible. It is a good idea to take advantage of all financial aid programs available, including the Pell Grant. Still, you cannot expect this scholarship to absolutely all costs that you might incur while studying. That is why you should not jump into asking for more money, if you know that you cannot get it from the Pell Grant. You can explore other options as well.