The Federal Pell Grant: Financial Aid For College Students

The Federal Pell Grant does not need to be repaid making it a better option than loans.

The Federal Pell Grant is one type of federal financial aid college students should be aware of if their financial need is high. Unlike a loan, a grant does not need to be repaid, which is one reason why grants are a much better option for students in the long run. This specific type of grant provides need-based income to low-income undergraduate students.

Federal Pell Grant Basic Information

The Federal Pell Grant is just one of the many types of federal financial aid available for college students. The basics for this type of grant include:

  • They don’t need to be repaid.
  • The amount college students receive depends on their financial need, costs to attend school, status as a full-time or part-time student and plans to attend school for a full academic year or less.
  • The maximum Federal Pell Grant for the July 1, 2011, to June 30, 2012 year was $5,550.
  • As of July 1, 2012, college students can only receive the Federal Pell Grant for 12 semesters.
  • If a college student’s parent or guardian was a member of the U.S. armed forces and died as a result of military service performed in Iraq or Afghanistan after the events of 9/11, they may be eligible for additional Federal Pell Grant funds.

Federal Pell Grant Eligibility Requirements

Federal financial aid often has specific requirements that need to be met, and the Federal Pell Grant is no exception. College students need the following to be eligible for a Federal Pell Grant. They must:

  • Be an undergraduate or vocational student enrolled or accepted for enrollment in a participating school.
  • Not have earned a bachelor’s or a professional degree.
  • Demonstrate financial need.
  • Be a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen.
  • Have a valid Social Security number.
  • Be registered with Selective Service (if they’re male).
  • Complete the FAFSA and sign statements on the FAFSA that:
    • They are not in default on a federal student loan.
    • They will use federal financial aid only for educational purposes.

Want more information about federal financial aid options available for college students? Come to my next Tackling the Runaway Costs of College workshop to learn more!

Photo Credit: allison.johnston

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