Whether you are on the cusp of high school graduation, or are in middle school and just beginning to think about college, you might be wondering what, exactly, Pell Grants are. The reason why there is so much natural interest in the Pell program might be the fact that it gives grants, as opposed to loans. Once awarded a Pell Grant, you have no financial responsibility to repay the money you've received in any way. And with grants of over five thousand dollars being awarded, it is no wonder that so many college-bound students apply. Because the application process might be complex to those not familiar with the program, you should try to learn as much as possible about the program.
Applying for a Pell Grant is one of the most effective ways to get a head-start on your college planning. Providing need-based grants to low-income students, the Pell program aims to foster a generation of highly educated and motivated graduates ready to enter the workforce. Although a Pell Grant can only be awarded to students who plan on attending one out of a list of participating institutions, that list covers about 5,400 different institutions. Therefore, there's a good chance that your institution of choice participates in the Pell program.
If you come from a more well-off background, for example, you might be afraid that you won't receive the grant. The truth of the matter is that the government uses a formula designed to calculate eligibility from a host of factors. These factors include the applying student's current income (if they are independent and working), the parents' income and/or assets, the household size and number of other family members attending school. This can be determined quite easily by simply filling out a FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Once the FAFSA is completed and filed, you will have a much better picture of your eligibility. It can take anywhere from a couple of days to several weeks for the results of your FAFSA filing to get back to you, but that shouldn't discourage you from talking about your financial worries and plans with your school's counselor. Many universities and colleges have dedicated financial aid representatives that are extremely knowledgeable about the entire process. Look one or several up and plan to meet with them to further discuss your options.
If you discover that you have won a sum of money from the Pell Grant program, congratulations! Typically, Pell grant money is sent straight to your school's finance office. Again, it is helpful to avail yourself of advice from a counselor to find out how much you will be getting paid, and when.