Pell grants, one of the most beneficial government grants for college students, technically came into existence in the year 1972, after amendment of The Higher Education Act of 1965. The main objective of providing pell grants was to give financial assistance to college students for getting education.
Over the years, pell grants requirements as well as the pell grant amount has gone through significant changes. Pell grants for college attending students are a source of great support, for those students whose families come under the bracket of low income families.
- These grants are federal government grants, governed by the US government. No private authority or private firm provides them, as it is purely a government effort.
- These grants are given on a yearly basis and hence, you can only apply during each year you plan to go to the college.
- Pell grants needn't be returned unlike loans from private firms.
- For the year 2010 - 2011, the Pell grant amount has been fixed to be USD 5,550.
- It is purely based on financial needs of the student. A student with the highest requirement of financial aid gets the highest amount of money, but not more than the fixed amount, that is, USD 5,550.
- The United States Education Department decides a student's eligibility for pell grants.
Knowing the eligibility rules is crucial, so that you can decide if you have chances of getting help through this grant. To avail benefits of federal pell grants in your college, you must know about the following:
- A simple formula that is used to calculate financial need of a student is:
Financial Need = Cost of Attendance (CoA) - Expected Family Contribution (EFC).
- Cost of attendance (CoA) is the total cost of education and expected family contribution (EFC) is what the family can afford to pay. The net amount is taken to be the parameter for financial need.
- The maximum limit for threshold EFC is USD 5,273. This means families whose EFC contribution is less than or equal to USD 5,273 are considered for positive grant eligibility. Lesser the value of EFC, more will be the chances of financial aid.
- Most important requirement for such grants is that the student must be pursuing his studies in an undergraduate program, or teacher or professional post-baccalaureate program.
- The student must not have any poor records of penalization or fraud in a federal or state institution.
To apply, the students have to visit the FAFSA website and fill the FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid form, that is the government's application form. You have to properly fill the form and ensure that nothing is left blank. Based on your application, your request for financial assistance will be considered.
Just filling FAFSA form, doesn't qualify you for receiving the grant. In fact, after you've submitted the form, you'll be able to check SAR, or Student Aid Report, that is a document stating various eligibility criteria and EFC amount necessary for qualifying for the grant, in your specific case.
Mention every detail asked in the form correctly, as every detail is checked by the government. Don't attempt to hide any information as you may end up getting your application rejected. The Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act, or SAFRA in 2010 introduced certain changes in pell grants rules.
As stated earlier in this article, the grant amount has been raised for 2010 - 2011. Some other major changes are that, based on the parameter, Consumer Price Index (+1%), the pell grants for college amount will increase, starting from 2013. Moreover, grants will also see more overhauling and changes every year, from 2010 onwards.
Pell grants for college students are one of the best grant programs in existence, till date. Students must be realistic while applying for this program. They must not forget that financial need is the major criteria. Hence, the student's income (if he is working) or the student's parents income (if the student is dependent on them) are vital parameters to get these grants. Only after you become aware of all points about these grants, apply for it and secure your education.