Americans can find that getting a higher education is just not in the cards when it comes to their finances.
But that may no longer be the case, as there are plenty of assistance options to change that.
The federal government created these financial aid programs to help those in need get a higher level of education.
Financial aid for higher education
One of the most famous programs is the Pell Grant, which offers students over $6,000 in financial support.
In addition to this, you never have to return these funds, so long as you stick to the program’s rules.
While it may sound like something new, the Pell Grant has been around for decades.
The grant’s maximum amount is $7,395 for the July 1st, 2023 – June 30th, 2024 period.
How to apply for a Pell Grant?
If you’re interested in what you read earlier, all you have to do is apply for the Pell Grant.
Thankfully, applying for a Pell Grant is incredibly easy, and all you need to do is fill out your Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
Applicants usually refer to this document as the FAFSA form.
Aside from determining your eligibility for the Pell Grant, the Department of Education also tells you if you’re eligible for other financial aid programs with this form.
After you receive the grant, you’ll have to resubmit the FAFSA every following year to maintain your eligibility status.
You’ll find that it’s pretty easy to fill out the form, and if you have any trouble, you can always refer to your school’s financial aid office.
What’s the deadline?
The FAFSA form is a useful document because it can be used to apply for a variety of financial aid programs, not just the Pell Grant.
By filling it out as soon as possible, you can increase your chances of receiving financial aid for your education.
Unlike the Pell Grant, some of these options may have strict deadlines, and you should be aware of them before applying.
You can learn more about this by asking around at your school’s financial aid office.
Another way to review all the FAFSA deadlines is to check the list on this website.
How to qualify for the grant?
Despite it being designed with needy students in mind, the Pell Grant isn’t exactly available to everyone.
There are still a few eligibility requirements that applicants have to meet in order to receive funding.
- Possession of a valid citizenship status
- A clear indicator of their financial needs
- Proof of being an undergraduate student, part-time or full time
- In some cases, the Pell Grant also accepts certain postbaccalaureate teacher certification programs.
While you’ve already read it before, it’s impossible to overstate how important it is to resubmit your FAFSA form if you’re eligible for the Pell Grant.
Without a way to display their eligibility, an individual may lose access to funding from the grant.
There are other ways to lose one’s eligibility status though, and it’s often by acquiring a criminal record.
If a person becomes incarcerated in a federal or state prison, or if they’re subjected to an involuntary civil commitment for a forcible/nonforcible sexual offense, they lose access to the Pell Grant.
What amount of money are we looking at?
It’s important to note that the funds that the Pell Grant offers can vary from year to year.
In the 2022/23 school year, the maximum amount was $6,895, and it was increased by $500 for the academic year after.
You must remember that this is only the maximum amount, and you may receive less if you qualify.
This is because you’ll receive an amount that is in line with your level of financial need.
Additionally, the grant only provides support for 12 semesters or roughly 6 academic years worth of education.
What this means is that you could potentially receive around $40k from the grant if the amount stays the same from this year forward.
Your educational institution will decide how you’ll be receiving the funds from the Pell Grant.
Some schools deduct the amount from the student’s tuition costs, while others pay the student directly.
In some cases, they’ll offer you a combination of these payment methods, so make sure you’ve thought it through.
If you want to learn more about the handling of your Pell Grant funds, you’ll have to contact your school’s financial aid office.
How do grants work?
Due to this financial aid program being a grant, generally speaking you don’t have to pay any of the money back.
Grants are a financial assistance form that is widely considered a “gift” for qualifying students.
Despite this, there are still scenarios where a student is forced to pay these funds back.
This can be for a variety of reasons, although the most common ones would be:
- Withdrawing from the educational institution
- Enrollment status changed
- This impacts the amount of money students receive from the grant, and they’ll have to pay back the difference if applicable
- A student received more financial aid, changing the level of their financial need
So don’t think that under no circumstances will you need to repay your grant. It’s actually quite the opposite!
Federal programs like the Pell Grant allow low-income Americans to receive up to $6,895 in funding to help cover their education costs.
What’s more, you don’t have to repay a single penny from this amount, so long as you follow the rules.
The total amount can change from year to year, but don’t let this distract you from applying for the program.
All you’ve got to do is fill out a FAFSA form! If you qualify, you could get thousands in support on your journey of getting a higher education.
Aside from being used for the Pell Grant, the form is used as an application for a number of other financial aid programs.
If you need help filling out the form, or you want to know more about these programs, visit your school’s financial aid office.