Students from low-income families are eligible for a Pell Grant. This scholarship is available from and awarded by the Federal Government. However, it is not disbursed by the Department of Education or any other Federal institution. The awarded sums are paid to students by the school they are attending. These education bodies are responsible for determining what the money can be applied to, but only to a certain extent. Read on to find out more about the different arrangements and what they mean to students.
Each school has a specific method for disbursing the money form the Pell Grants of their students. There is one rule that should be kept – the payments must be made at least two times per academic year or once per term, whichever is applicable. Form then on, the school decides where the money goes. There are three main options. The entire sum may be applied towards your tuition fees. The Pell Grant money can be paid to you directly. This usually happens in the form of a check. Alternatively, the school may apply part of the entire sum towards tuition fees and the rest can be given to your directly.
There are cases, in which the sum available from the Pell Grant is larger than the tuition fee for the respective academic year. If this happens, the outstanding amount is disbursed directly to the student. You have to keep in mind that you will not lose the money and you do not have to repay it in any way.
Generally, any amount of money that you have from your Pell Grant is yours to spend. Just take into account the fact that when applying for the scholarship you have signed an agreement to apply the money only towards costs related to your education. This means that you can spend it on anything you need during the academic year.
You can use the Pell Grant money available to you directly to pay for room and board, rent, if you live in your own place, books, equipment, such as a computer, and even clothing and food. It is perfectly possible for you to save part or the entire available sum. Still, if you have only part of your tuition fee covered by the scholarship, you have to make sure that you will be able to pay the rest out of your pocket.
You are not required to account for the Pell Grant money you have spent to anyone. Still, it is a good idea to keep your budgeting under control and to keep a record of what you are paying for. This will help you manage your finances. It can also come in handy in case any questions regarding your use of the grant arise.
Overall, the Pell Grant money you have available directly to you can be applied towards any expenses you have during your studies. Spend and/or save it wisely. Keep in mind that you can be disqualified from the Federal Pell Grant Program if your GPA drops below 2.0.