Pell Grants

One of the most useful federal grant programs for higher education is the Pell grant program.  Students apply for Pell grants because they do not have to pay back the grant award.  These grants can help pay a substantial portion of college tuition.

Although these are government grants, Pell grants are awarded through the school you attend. To determine eligibility, you will need to complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and submit it to the school’s financial aid department.  Documentation that supports information on the applications should be included with the submission.  Applications are available from your school or directly from the U.S. Department of Education.

The grant amount is determined by the government and involves a sophisticated formula that considers multiple factors.  Government Pell grants are awarded based 100% on the financial situation of the student.  An important deciding factor is the amount you and your family can contribute to your education.

Dependent students are required to include details about their family when applying for Pell grants.  This includes combined income, household size, and siblings who are also enrolled in college.  This helps the government determine the amount you and your family are expected to pay.

If you are an independent student and employed, you are expected to apply a portion of your annual income toward education costs.  Other assets will be considered as well.  Married students must include their spouse’s income on the form.  You should indicate if you are raising children as there are costs associated with that.

Another factor that is considered is whether you are a part-time or full-time student.  Part-time students receive smaller Pell grants.  This is in proportion to the cost of their education.  The cost for full-time students is higher than for part-time students so they are likely to receive the maximum award amount if all other determining criteria are met.

The maximum award amounts of government Pell grants are determined on an annually basis.  Each amount is less than $10,000 and is cumulative.  This means that if a student attends more than one college and applies for a Pell grant from each, the combined amount cannot exceed the annual maximum amount.

Pell grants are primarily for undergraduate students with the exception of some graduate programs for teachers.  Payment of the grant is determined by the school.  Some simply apply the grant award to the student’s account while others write the awarded student a check for the grant amount.