How Does a Pell Grant Work?
By William Berk
, last updated August 3, 2011
While money does not grow on trees, the government can possibly grant you some cold, hard cash to finance your collegiate studies. The Pell Grant is just what it says it is: a grant that does not need to be paid back. The government is basically investing in you to help you succeed in college, through the Pell Grant. The Pell Grant's namesake is Claiborne Pell, a U.S. Senator who advocated for the institution of this program, which has existed for the past few decades. You can read this article to discover how a Pell Grant works, and how you can apply for one.
How It Works
A Pell Grant, as stated above, is a grant that does not need to be paid back. With the ever-increasing cost of college education, a Pell Grant is now a component of a student's financial aid package, or offer. When a student applies and is accepted to a college/university and applies for financial aid, their financial aid offer may include a Pell Grant. This grant will then be used to directly pay for educational expenses. The grant is your tax dollars at work! The actual amount of the grant can vary year to year (though the maximum amount for the 2010-2011 year is $5,550), and also is determined through your financial need.
To apply for a Pell Grant, fill out and submit the Free Application For Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Visit fafsa.ed.gov for more information. The application opens for the next academic year in January. The FAFSA website also includes more deadlines as well, which vary by state, for state-specific programs (such as the Cal Grant in California). The FAFSA can then be filled out and submitted online. Check, and double check, to ensure that all information is correct. Finally, keep in mind that not everyone can receive a Pell Grant. They are intended for low to middle income students, determined through the U.S. Department of Education's income determination formula.