How To Get A Pell Grant

How To Get A Pell Grant
Photo by Ralf Peter Reimann – CC BY-SA 2.0

Pell Grant is named after Claiborne Pell, a former senator from Rhode Island. During his long tenure in the US Senate, he was a strong advocate of federal scholarship money, making close to $5,550 to be available for recipients every year. Some of the factors that determine the amount received by a recipient are your finances, whether the student will be attending full-time or part time program and the cost of the school.

There are both merit-based and regular grants available for those looking to fund their post-high school education. While the merit-based grants are based partially on school performance, other federal grants are not. One popular and important federal grant for many students is what is known as the Pell grant. In order to receive it, it is obviously important to know how to get a Pell grant. Therefore, this discussion focuses on answering this question and better informing students of what they need to know.

FAFSA
The most important step on how to get a Pell grant is filling out a federal application for student aid (FAFSA). This document is provided to students free of charge by the federal government. Hard copies are available at most educational institutions or can be filled out online for free at www.fafsa.ed.gov. It is a short but important application that assesses whether or not a student needs federal financial assistance. Based off of tax information and financial data, this document is usually easily filled out. However, if any questions do arise, seek your institution or educational facilities help. Many financial aid counselors will walk you through the steps and information necessary to complete the form accurately.

Have Financial Need
Having a financial need for assistance is a very important part of how to get a Pell grant. If an individual does not have need, the Pell grant will not be awarded. Unlike a merit based grant, this grant is based solely on a student’s financial circumstance and not on their academic performance. In order to get a Pell grant, then, you need to be assured that that necessity is there. If not, the Department of Education may choose to award you other federal aids or, in some circumstances, nothing at all. If this is the case, seek outside resources to finance your education. Examine state grants and other scholarships to finance your education in these situations.

Program Requirements
Concerning how to get a Pell grant from the Federal Government, an individual must be an undergraduate student. Those seeking aid for graduate school will be automatically disqualified for this particular grant. Further, if a student is an undergraduate but not in a qualifying program, they will be automatically out of the running for this federal award. Students need to be in a degree seeking program which can be explained better by the institution of choice.

Citizenship
Another characteristic that is necessary when receiving a federal Pell grant is U.S. citizenship. If you are not a U.S. citizen, you are not eligible for the award. Exceptions do exist, but these exceptions are complicated and can change from one year to the next. Some students are eligible to receive a grant if they are a qualifying non-citizen, including those that are becoming naturalized and those seeking asylum from a particular country, but again these qualifications can vary. For more information on this eligibility requirement, a student should seek advice from a financial aid counselor or the Department of Education.

Pell Grant Recap
These are some of the qualifications that will determine your eligibility for the federal Pell grant. If you have any questions about these or any other aspects of the federal aid process, do not hesitate to seek outside advice. Such knowledge from an expert can be helpful in both helping you to better understanding how to get a Pell grant or in understanding why you did not receive it. Never feel embarrassed or ashamed to ask questions. Aid is needed for most students to attend school and in these economic times it becomes even more essential.

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