Getting worthwhile help to attend college is a smart option if you wouldn’t be able to attend otherwise. In today’s competitive world, college education can very well equip you with skills and competence against all the other career seekers like you.
In the United States, the government tailors several financial assisting tools to enable the financially deprived families acquire good education and consequently produce better and productive citizens to upgrade the nation as a whole. One of the most widely available assistance programs for college students comes from the Federal Pell Grant program.
A Pell Grant is offered to students who are in great need of financial help to pay for their college expenses. This funding differs from other forms of scholarships which are awarded based on grades; instead a Pell Grant is given in a needs-based program in consideration of the applicants’ financial capabilities. The financial status can be reflected from the student’s Expected Family Contribution.
Unlike a loan, this federal grant does not have to be repaid, making it “free money” for college. Moreover, with loans, the government puts a limit on the amount of money students can borrow, while on Pell Grant, the students are basically the ones who put a limit on how much college funding can be awarded to them. The amount you get, though, will not merely depend on your financial need. It can also be counted on how much the college classes will cost, your status as a full time or part time student, and your plans to whether attend school for a full academic year or less. The government will determine and decide on how much money they will sponsor for your college funding. For the school year 2010-2011, the maximum amount of Pell Grant awarded was $5,550. As a side note, the maximum award can be given to eligible students whose parents or guardians died from being in the military service in Iran or Afghanistan after September 11, 2001.
The application for a Pell Grant requires the student to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. This form is used to determine applicants’ Expected Family Contribution. It does not have questions related to the student’s race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, or religion. Hopeful applicants need to provide all essential information, particularly referring to all income or assets, with all honesty and accuracy. Provisions of erroneous information, data or figures can result in tough penalties and prosecution.
Once you are considered to be eligible, you can obtain the money in a couple of ways. The school can automatically apply the Pell Grant funds to cut your school costs, or pay you directly the amount entitled to you, usually by check. Your school must notify you in writing how much the award is granted, how and when it will be paid. And while you wait for the approval or the award letter, you may also consider pursuing other financial aid options to sufficiently support your schooling.