The federal government assists needy students through the Pell Grant program. You don’t need to pay back this grant money, but you qualify only if you’re an undergraduate student and have not yet acquired a college degree. You can apply for the Pell Grant before you get acceptance into a college, but you’ll receive the funds only after you enroll.
Fill Out The FAFSA
To apply for the Pell Grant, you need to complete and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, after Jan. 1 each year. Make sure you get the original FAFSA form the Department of Education issues. If you have not yet filed your taxes, you can use close estimates of your annual income for the past year. Depending on the state you live in, you can submit your application before March 1 or by the middle of February.
The maximum Pell Grant award for 2013-2014 is $5,645. The actual amount you receive depends on your Expected Family Contribution, or the amount your family can spend on your education. The grant amount also depends on your Cost of Attendance, which considers whether you’re attending school full-time or part-time or if you’re studying for a full academic year. You need to reapply for funding each year. The Department of Education assesses the amounts you qualify to receive using various factors, including the changes in your financial status and your academic performance in the previous year.
During your lifetime, you can receive funds for six years’ worth of schooling. Your academic year is calculated from July 1 of the first year to June 30 of the next year. After taking into account your Expected Family Contribution, the Department of Education assesses your grant amount according to the number of semesters for which you’ve enrolled. For example, if you enrolled for a full year, you’ll receive the complete amount for a whole year. However, if you enrolled for only one semester, you’ll receive half the total amount for that year.
Military Service Grant
If you don’t qualify for the Pell Grant because of your Expected Family Contribution but meet all other specifications, you might qualify for the Iran and Afghanistan Service Grant. You can apply for this grant if you lost a parent or guardian who was in military service operations in Iran or Afghanistan. You also can qualify for this grant if you were 24 years or younger and enrolled in school, even in a part-time course, when your parent died
Your school distributes the money you receive for the Pell Grant. Schools often send out a notice advising grant recipients whether the school credits the student’s school account, issues a check or pays any other way. The letter also informs recipients of the total grant amount and whether the school plans to distribute the money every semester, trimester or quarter. If you’re enrolled only part-time, the school distributes the money according to the terms of your enrollment status.