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Pell Grant is awarded to undergraduate students who are currently taking up a bachelor’s degree and have a serious need of financial assistance. Most of the qualified students who may receive this federal grant are those who have low Expected Family Contribution or EFC.

Take note that individuals who have already earned a college degree are no longer eligible for a Pell grant and this goes the same with incarcerated individuals. However, individuals who are undergoing a postbaccalaureate teacher certification program may still be eligible for a grant.

Who is Eligible?

Eligible individuals of the pell grant must be:

  • A student obtaining a bachelor's degree during this time;
  • Should nor have earned a college degree yet;
  • Must display a serious financial need; and
  • Legal resident of the country

There are about 6,000 educational institutions within the country that participate in the Pell Grant program. So, if you’re wondering if the school you are attending participates in the federal student assistance program, you need not worry since there is a high possibility that they do. If you want to know, the best thing to do is to ask the school’s administration yourself.

How Can I Apply for a Pell Grant?

Unlike other federal grants that require you to go through a long application process, applying for a Pell Grant is just easy. All you have to do is fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid or known as the FAFSA form.

Upon submitting the application form, the FAFSA will then begin to process your application first by determining your eligibility for a Pell Grant and the grant amount that you will get based on your EFC. Students are encouraged to apply for a Pell Grant even if they are in doubt in terms of eligibility. Trying is never a bad choice! If you are planning to apply, take note that the FAFSA application deadline is on June 30.

However, some states set earlier deadlines for submission. If you want to know the application process and deadlines in your area, Inquiring for application details at the program’s local agency in your area is a good choice.

How Much Money Will I Receive?

The amount of money you will receive after a successful application may vary. This is because the FAFSA assessed the information you have included in your application such as the following:

  1. Your Expected Family Contribution (EFC);
  2. Your attendance records from the educational institution you are studying;
  3. Your student status (either part-time or full-time student); and
  4. The willingness to attend school.

As of now, the maximum amount of Pell Grant that the government is issuing is about 6,495 US dollars for the 2023-2024 academic school year. However, as stated earlier, grantees will receive different amounts of money, which is determined by the information you submitted to the FAFSA. Take note too that you may not be qualified to receive a Pell Grant if you are attending more than one school at the same time.

How is the Payment Process?

If your application is approved, there are two ways that the Pell Grant will be given:

  • First is by paying the grant directly to your school fees at the university you are attending; and
  • The second is by paying the grant directly to you once in each term; however, there may be instances when the school does not follow the traditional school term that the grant will be given to you at least twice in every academic year (e.g. at the beginning or during the mid-academic year).

For those students who are undergoing work-study jobs, the grant may be given at least once a month. If you want to know the specific process for claiming your Pell Grant, you may visit the program’s local agency in your area.

Are There Things To Do In Order To Maintain My Eligibility?

Now that you are qualified for a Federal Pell Grant, what you have to do now is maintain eligibility for the grant program. To do this:

  • You must maintain your enrollment to a non-foreign school studying for a bachelor’s degree; and
  • You need to fill out the FAFSA form every year.

Usually, the duration of your eligibility for a Pell Grant is 12 terms. If you already used all the terms, this means that you may no longer be eligible for a Pell Grant. Further, after finally acquiring a professional degree, you will no longer receive any further grants.

Is it Possible to Receive a Larger Amount of Pell Grant?

Yes, it is possible given the following circumstances:

  • If your guardian or parent served in the US military and died as a result of military service in Iraq or Afghanistan after the tragic events of September 11, 2001; or
  • If your parent or guardian is a public safety officer who died due to work duty.

It is also possible that you can receive additional grants if:

  • Your parent or guardian died while you are less than 24 years old; and
  • Your parent or guardian died while you are currently enrolled in a university part-time or full-time.

If it happens that you turned out ineligible for a Pell grant due to your high EFC amount even if you have a parent/guardian who died due to military service, you may want to try the Iraq and Afghanistan Service grant.

Am I Obligated to Pay Back the Pell Grants I Received?

No, a Pell Grant is money awarded to eligible students. Thus, this is not given to be repaid by the grantee. Instead, it should be considered as one of their sources of financial aid for their studies. Unlike Pell Grants, other financial aids like a student loan or the federal work-study program are programs that require the claimant to pay back the financial assistance s/he received.

Being a student is both a struggle and an opportunity to have a better future. Federal Pell Grant is one of the government’s programs that aims to reduce the burden on students and give others a higher chance to attend school and earn a college degree.

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