Students from low income households are eligible for scholarships provided by the Federal Government. The Federal Pell Grant is a scholarship which is part of the Federal Student Aid program. The funds are directly available upon approval of the candidates. You will receive the money and you do not have to return it. It is worth considering this grant and applying for it. Here is how to do it.
In order to apply for a Federal Pell Grant, you need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You can fill the application online. It is available on the official FAFSA website. There you will find instructions and advice on how to fill in the form depending on your individual student status. You should be careful not to miss the deadlines for the respective award year.
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is the only application for the Federal Pell Grant. Basically, it is for federal aid in general. Your application will be reviewed. The information you have reported in the FAFSA form will be used in a special formula. This formula is designed to determine your expected family contribution (EFC) status. This is the main factor that will determine your eligibility. The lower your EFC is the larger the Federal Pell Grant sum awarded to you will be. Other factors, such as your individual cost of attendance and your student enrollment status, will also determine the size of the grant. Still, these aspects do not contribute to your eligibility.
After you have filled in and sent the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, you will receive your EFC score. You will be officially notified of your EFC status with a Student Aid Report (SAR). Alternatively, your school will receive an Institutional Student Information Record (ISIR). These papers should state clearly whether you are eligible for a Pell Grant or not. If you are eligible, then you will get the scholarship automatically.
The school you are attending has to notify you about the size of the grant you will receive. They should also inform you when and how you will receive the grants awarded to you. If you do not receive any formal letter from your school after the SAR and/or ISIR is available, you should contact the financial aid office of the school and get the information. They should be able to tell you what additional documents they will need from you. These usually include federal tax returns, bank statements regarding savings and loans and W-2 information.
Make sure you know how much you will receive, how and when. This is really important because in some cases the Federal Pell Grant is directly applied towards your tuition costs while in others you can receive part of the sum or all of it directly. There are differences since schools determine how and when to disburse the Federal Pell Grant.
Overall, you simply need to fill in the FAFSA form and wait for the results. You will be notified whether or not you are eligible for the Federal Pell Grant. If you are, it will be awarded to you straight away. You do not need to fill in separate or additional applications.