The Pell Grant Program is a federal program that provides financial aid to low income students who demonstrate need and who are attending an undergraduate program or certain graduate degree programs that lead to teacher certification or licensure.. The maximum grant award is $5,550 and, unlike a student loan, does not have to be paid back. The grants may be used at any of the more than 5,400 participating institutions. The amount of the grant is related to the student's expected family contribution, the tuition and fees charged by the institution of higher learning, whether the student is attending full or part time, and whether the student is attending for the full academic year.
To apply for a Pell Grant, you must fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and provide the required information so that they can determine the extent of your need. The elements of this consideration include the student's income and assets if he or she is independent, the parents' income and assets if the student is dependent, the number of family members living in the household, and the number of family members attending post secondary institutions. The expected family contribution is calculated as a percentage of the net income after deducting for living expenses and taxes plus a percentage of the net assets after subtracting an asset protection allowance. Once the analysis is complete, the student will receive a Student Aid Report and the institution will receive an Institutional Student Information Record, both of which notify if the student qualifies for the Pell Grant.
The maximum Pell Grant of $5,550 is given for any eligible individual whose parent or guardian died as a result of military service in Iraq or Afghanistan after September 11, 2001. The institution will either credit your grant or give you a check once a semester. You can receive a Pell Grant for up to 18 semesters. Schools that do not use semesters, trimesters, or quarters, must distribute the grants at least twice a year.
There are federal and state deadlines and the school in which you are enrolled may very well have a deadline for application as well. Make sure you familiarize yourself with all of the deadlines to which your application is subjected. You can fill out your application online, complete a PDF and mail the application in for processing, or you can call and request a paper copy of the application at 800-4-FED-AID.
It is best to fill out your application after you have filed your taxes. You will need information from your tax form in order to complete the application. If it is necessary to submit the application prior to filing your taxes in order to make a deadline, then you can do so by estimating the amounts that you will be filing. If your circumstances change after filing, for example if your family loses an income source, then you should consult the financial aid office where you are enrolled and they will help you to update your information. The application requires information on the student applicant and his or her parents.