Tips for Doing Your Pell Grant Application
The federal government offers several financial aid options to help students pay for college degree and career training programs. The Pell Grant is a well known federal grant available to low-income undergraduate students. It does not have to be repaid, but you must submit a completed Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in order to be eligible for a Pell grant. The Pell grant application process begins with the filling out the FAFSA form.
Pell Grant Application Eligibility Requirements and Award Facts
- To qualify for a Pell grant, you must be an undergraduate student.
- You must be a United States citizen, a U.S national, or a qualifying non-citizen.
- You can't have already earned a bachelor's degree or a professional degree. (There are some exceptions for certain post-baccalaureate teacher certification programs.)
- Pell grants are awarded based on financial need. Students with family incomes below $20,000 get most Pell grants, although students with family incomes up to $45,000 may be eligible.
- Pell grants for the 2008-2009 award year (July 1, 2008 to June 30, 2009) will range from $400 up to a maximum of approximately $4,700. The Pell grant you get will depend on your income, your school attendance costs, whether you're a full-time or part-time student, and how long you'll be in school.
Filling out the FAFSA and Your Pell Grant Application
Prepare ahead of time. Collect the documents and personal identification information you'll need to complete the FAFSA to ensure that your Pell Grant application process goes smoothly. The documents and information include Social Security card, Permanent Resident card, bank statements and W-2 forms. Different students may require different forms and information.
Do your FAFSA and Pell grant applications early. Since many colleges award grant money, including the Pell Grant, on a first come, first served basis, the earlier you file the FAFSA, the better. Since tax information is required, you might consider doing your taxes immediately, rather than waiting until April. The sooner you can submit your completed FAFSA, the sooner your Pell grant application will be considered, too.
Filing the FAFSA is FREE. There is no cost for submitting a FAFSA form. It is illegal for anyone to try to charge you for the FAFSA. If someone asks you to pay him a fee to submit the FAFSA for you, watch out! (It is not illegal to offer to help you understand and fill out the FAFSA preparation worksheet, but the Department of Education discourages this practice. The FAFSA website offers all the application tips and assistance you need.)
Pell Grant Application - 3 Ways to File the FAFSA
1. Complete and submit the FAFSA online. This is the fastest way to file the FAFSA, but you'll need a PIN. See our FAFSA article for more information.
2. Download a PDF copy of the FAFSA from the federal student aid web site, complete it, and mail it back to the address provided.
3. Call the Federal Student Aid Center at 1-800-4-FED-AID and ask them to mail a paper FAFSA form to you. Complete it and and mail it back to the address provided.
For more information on how to obtain a FAFSA and complete your Pell grant application process, talk to your school's financial aid office or visit www.fafsa.ed.gov.
Pell Grant Application and FAFSA Terms to Know
Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The Expected Family Contribution or EFC is the amount of money your family can contribute to your education costs based on a government established calculation that considers a variety of factors including your family's income.
Cost of Attendance (COA). The Cost of Attendance or COA is the amount of money it will cost for you to attend school in addition to tuition. Factors considered when determining your COA can include books, transportation and food.
Student Aid Report (SAR). The Student Aid Report or SAR is the report you will receive within 3 weeks of submitting your Pell Grant application or FAFSA form. The SAR contains the results of your FAFSA or Pell Grant application.
Pell Grant Application Questions
The Pell Grant application process is an important one and it is always a good practice to seek help and ask lots of questions. You can contact your school's financial aid office for assistance with your Pell Grant application process. Visiting the Federal Student Aid's website at www.fafsa.ed.gov is an excellent source of information regarding every step of the Pell Grant application process.
Source: www.fafsa.ed.gov Sarah Durning is a content contributor for CourseAdvisor.