You should not hesitate to pursue postsecondary education even if you are already working. This will give you the chance to exploit a lot of benefits, such as a higher salary, promotion and faster career development. It is usually not easier for employed individuals to pay for the entire cost of their education. That is why you should definitely look at all the options for financial aid that you can take advantage of. The Pell Grant will certainly help you a lot and so will any tuition reimbursement available from your employer.
There are a number of things that you should take into account when considering to use the two type of aid together. Firstly, you have to be eligible for a Pell Grant in order to get it. Since you are employed, your income and other relevant financial factors, including your cost of attending school, will be taken into consideration so that your expected personal contribution can be determined. It should be equal to or less than $5,273. Hence, if you are classified as a student who is able to contribute more, you will not be awarded the grant.
Another thing you have to consider is the amount of tuition fee reimbursement your employer can provide. Some companies may offer 25% reimbursement only while others can agree to cover 75% or 100% of your costs. Keep in mind that you have to take the money out of your pocket first. This means that you have to secure enough funds to pay your cost of attendance in order to get the reimbursement.
You have to be extremely careful when combining the two options. You cannot get reimbursed by your employer for the part of your tuition fees that are covered by the Pell Grant. That is why you should arrange for everything in advance and get a clear idea of your cost of attendance and how much of it will be covered by the two sources separately. It is perfectly possible for you employer to refuse to make any reimbursements before the Pell Grant has been applied to your tuition fees.
The best course of action will be to apply early for Federal financial aid in order to get the scholarship first. Then, you can cover the remainder of the tuition fee, if any, out of your pocket and request the reimbursement from your employer. Of course, you should have made the appropriate arrangements with the company first.
You have yet another option that you have to consider. You may arrange with your school for a partial application of the Pell Grant towards your cost of attendance. In this way, you will get to use a larger chunk of the money from the scholarship for other school expenses, such as books and a computer, for instance. You will also get a bigger reimbursement from your employer since you will pay a bigger portion of the tuition fees out of your pocket.
Overall, you have to arrange your Pell Grant and tuition reimbursement as best as possible and keep your finances under control.