Pell Grant FAQs and Tips

Written by  //  2014/03/17  //  Scholarships and Grants  //  Comments Off on Pell Grant FAQs and Tips

The federal Pell Grant has its origins in the Higher Education Act of 1965, part of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s effort to make college available to more students. Originally known as the Basic Educational Opportunity Grant, it was later renamed to honor Claiborne Pell, a Rhode Island senator and prime backer of the grant.

Tens of billions of dollars are dispensed annually by the federal government to help undergraduate students. The funds are not repaid and are applied to cover tuition, room and board, and can also be used for living expenses.

Here’s what you need to know about Pell grants:

Undergraduate students are eligible. Pell grants cover undergraduate education, not graduate work. One exception is made for students enrolled in a post baccalaureate teacher certification program. If you are enrolled, then check with your school to see if you might qualify.

Jailed students not eligible. Inmates can sometimes take college classes, but they’re not eligible to receive a federal Pell grant. This restriction applies only to people incarcerated in a federal or state prison, not individuals spending a few days in the county or town slammer. You also find yourself disqualified from receiving a grant once paroled if you have a civil commitment to fulfill first.

Aid amounts will vary. If you are eligible for a federal Pell grant, the amount of money you receive depends on several factors. First, your financial need comes into play. By filling out a FAFSA form, that need can be determined. Second, your total cost of attending school is also considered. This includes your tuition, books, room and board. Third, you’re more likely to get a higher amount if you are attend college full time. Part-time students are still eligible to receive grant money, however. Fourth, your college plans must be made known too. If you plan to attend for less than a full academic year, your funding will be affected.

The award limits are adjusted annually. Every year, the federal Pell grant maximum award changes. For 2013-2014, the award came in at $5,645. For 2014-2015 the maximum award is $5,730. The amount is adjusted by the Department of Education annually to reflect the ever increasing costs of higher education. History has shown us that the award amounts go up, never down.

Special military offspring assistance may apply. For college students who had a parent die in Afghanistan or Iraq due to service performed in the those nations after 9/11, a larger federal Pell grant award is possible. Besides the general requirements for receiving a grant, the student must have been no older than 23 when the parent or guardian died. He or she must also be enrolled in a college or a career school at least part time.

There is a time limit. College students have six years or no more than 12 semesters to complete their education and still receive an award. Before your reach your pay out limit, you’ll receive notification explaining where you stand. Plan your studies accordingly to remain eligible.

Funds Dispersion

Federal Pell grant funds are sent to your college and applied to cover your tuition and fees first. If you live on campus, then funds are allocated to cover your room and board too. If there is money left over, the funds are sent to you and may be used to cover other expenses. Your college may allow you to choose the method of payment including a direct deposit to your bank account, cash, check, or some other payment method.


Peter Bowman is a professional blogger that provides tips and information on franchise opportunities you should invest in. He writes for Franchise Expo, the place to find the best franchise opportunities available.

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