The Federal Pell Grant program is the largest student aid program in the U.S. It provides grant money to the country’s neediest students to help them attend college. It also does not need to be repaid. With tuition constantly increasing, many students aren’t sure how to pay for college, but the Pell Grant can help alleviate those concerns.
If you qualify for a Pell Grant, you can receive up to $6495 to put towards your college education. Qualification is based on financial need. It also includes factors like your family’s assets, your college’s cost of attendance, and how many children in your family are attending college.
What are the requirements?
Before you can apply for a Pell Grant, there are a few basic requirements you must meet. You must:
- Be a U.S. citizen or an eligible non-citizen, such as a permanent resident
- Hold a high school diploma, GED, or approved home-school certification
- Have a valid Social Security Number
- Be registered with Selective Service if you’re a male between 18 and 25
- Be accepted to an eligible certificate or degree program
Federal Pell Grants are typically awarded to undergraduate students working toward their first college degree, but students in select post-graduate teaching programs may be eligible as well.
How do you apply?
Your first step toward seeing if you qualify for one is to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. You’ll need to fill out your FAFSA every year to determine your continued Pell Grant eligibility, so make sure to fill it out as soon as you are able to.
How much student aid can you get?
The maximum award for a Pell Grant is $6495 per school year, but you may not receive the full amount. The Federal Pell Grant is not an all-or-nothing program, and you can receive anywhere up to the maximum award amount depending on how much you qualify for.
You can only receive one Pell Grant per year, and Federal law limits you to receiving six years of Pell Grant funding. This means that you can receive up to the full reward amount every year for a total of six years.
What can this money pay for?
Aid from a Pell Grant can be used to pay for qualified educational expenses. These include:
- Your college tuition
- College-related fees like health centers, computer labs, etc.
- College textbooks and supplies such as paper, binders, safety glasses, etc.
- On-campus room and board or off-campus living expenses
- Costs for daycare or other dependent-care expenses
When will you receive your money?
Once your FAFSA has been processed, you’ll receive your financial aid award letters and can start to compare offers. Federal Pell Grants, if you qualify, are paid out through colleges, so your school will let you know when and how you’ll be paid. Some schools apply the money directly to your tuition, some cut you a check, and others do a little of both.