Pell Grant is assistance provided by the federal government to the low income group students who want to pursue post secondary education. The government has given around $16bn in year 2008 as Pell Grants. The amount of grant changes every year depending upon the budget set by the US Department of Education. However, this grant is not available to all students. It is available only to those students who have enrolled in any of the 5400 educational institutions approved by federal government for Pell Grants.
Some of the basic eligibility requirements for Pell Grants are –
• You must be a US citizen
• Your total annual family income should be below $20000
• You must have enrolled for the undergraduate program in accredited colleges
Even if you do not meet these eligibility requirements, you can still apply for the grant. This is because the federal government gives Pell Grants to exceptional cases also. It is however not definite that you will get the grant. So you should apply for other educational grants too.
The application forms for Pell Grants are available at different vocational schools and colleges. You can also download the forms from the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) website. The form can also be filled online. Since the number of students applying for Pell Grant is very high it is advised that you fill your application form very carefully and submit it well in time to increase your chances of qualifying for aid. Remember to keep the different documents like bank statements, income tax returns etc at hand as you need to submit them along with the application form.
Once you submit your application form, you will receive intimation from the concerned authorities if you qualify for the Pell Grant. You will receive a student aid report (SAR) which will give the details of the amount of loan granted to you. The grant offered to you depends on your financial condition and special situation, if any. To arrive at the grant to be offered to each eligible student, the federal government has fixed formulae. The formula used depends upon whether the student is independent or dependent on parents. The amount of grant is largely dependent on the expected family contribution (EFC), cost of attendance (COA), family size and whether you are pursuing full time or part time course. Once you qualify for the grant, the same is disbursed to you at fixed frequency by your school or college. In case you have doubts at any stage of the entire Pell Grant process, you can contact their customer service.
In short, Pell Grants are really useful if you wish to pursue undergraduate course but cannot afford it due to your weak financial situation. Unlike other educational loans, you do not have to repay this grant. So, you should try your level best to get this aid to pursue course of your choice.