Student Financial Aid - College Grants
Pell Grant: One of the many potential sources of financial aid available for college
students is a Federal Pell Grant. This grant is a form of need-based financial aid, and
unlike a loan, the money does not have to be repaid. Eligible students receive a
specified amount each year under the Pell Grant program.
Eligibility: The U.S. Department of Education uses a standard formula to evaluate the
information a student supplies when applying for a Pell Grant. This formula produces an
EFC (Expected Family Contribution) number, which will determine if the student is
eligible for the grant. Applicants must be undergraduate students who have not earned
a bachelor's degree. Each applicant must be a U.S. citizen or an eligible non-citizen and
needs to have a high school diploma or a GED or to demonstrate the ability to benefit
from the program.
Award Amount: The maximum amount can change each year depending on program
funding. The amount of the grant depends on both the student's EFC and several other
factors. These factors are the student's cost of attendance (tuition and fees, room and
board, books, supplies, and so on) and the amount of time the student attends school
(whether the student goes to school for a full academic year or less and whether the
student is full-time or part-time). An eligible part-time student can receive a Pell Grant.
The amount awarded, however, will be less than for a full-time student. An applicant
may receive only one Pell Grant in an award year.
Disbursement: A school may credit Pell Grant funds to a student's school account,
pay the student directly (usually by check), or use a combination of these two methods.
The school must notify the student in writing of the amount of the Pell Grant and of how
and when payments will be made. Schools must pay at least once per term, whether
that is a semester, trimester, or quarter. Schools that don't use formally defined,
traditional terms must pay the student at least twice per academic year.
Time Limit: Current regulations pose no limit on the number of years a student can
receive a Pell Grant as long as the student remains in a degree program as an
undergraduate and does not have a bachelor's degree.
How and When to Apply: Students apply for not only Pell Grants but all federal, state,
and institutional financial aid programs (except scholarships) by completing the Free
Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The paper FAFSA is available from high
school guidance offices, or the form may be completed online at www.fafsa.ed.gov. The
FAFSA must be submitted by the end of June to be eligible for aid in the following
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