There are scholarships designed exclusively for undergraduate students from low-income families. The Federal Pell Grant is available to any student enrolled in a community college, junior college, technical or career college provided that he/she meets a number of other criteria. You should definitely look into the eligibility criteria, the application process and the ways in which you can use the available funding.
You are eligible for the Pell Grant if you are a community college student enrolled in an educational program that leads to the awarding of a degree, diploma or certificate. The duration of the course and its type (full-time or part-time) are not criteria for eligibility. However, these factors will determine the amount of money you will receive, if you are awarded the grant. In addition, your community college must participate in the Federal Pell Grant Program.
You can apply for the scholarship using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You simply need to fill in your family’s financial details or your financial details if you are not a dependent student. When your expected family contribution (EFC) is calculated, you will be informed whether you are eligible for a Pell Grant or not. If you are eligible, the scholarship is automatically awarded to you. The amount you will receive depends on the size of your EFC, the cost of a unit in your community college program and the entire cost of attendance.
Your college is responsible for paying out the money from the grant to you. In most cases, the entire sum goes directly for covering your tuition expenses. If the amount is greater than these costs, you will be paid the remainder directly, usually in the form of a check. In some cases, the entire sum of the grant can be split between tuition and personal educations costs. This means that some of it will cover part of your college fees while the rest is available directly to you. It is also possible for you to get all Pell Grant money directly. You have to ask the financial aid office in your school which form of disbursement is applicable to you.
It is up to you to calculate how much of the grant will be available to you after your unit costs and other fees are covered. You are not supposed to return the remainder. You can spend it on anything related to your schooling – accommodation, textbooks and supplies, transportation, utilities and food. You should not view the Pell Grant money as a one-time gift that you can just waste. You will certainly need the money to manage your finances while studying.
All community college students eligible for and receiving Pell Grants can continue getting the scholarship, if they enroll in a 4-year college or university degree program after completing successfully the 2-year community college course. You will be able to apply for and receive the scholarship for another two years. You have to keep in mind this option, if you decide to continue your higher education.