Students may not be aware that there are a variety of financial aid opportunities that could be available to them! These opportunities can help with the cost of tuition and books, sometimes at no expense to the student. Most public schools unfortunately don’t have financial education classes for our youth. This leaves it up to parents to educate their child on their options. However, parents often aren’t educated on the topic either! When it comes to deciding the best path to schooling, each student has different needs. Some students may need financial aid assistance more than others. This is where opportunities like Pell Grants come in.
Understanding Pell Grants
You might be wondering how much you can get from this opportunity. For the 2023-2024 school year, from July 1st, 2023 through June 30th, 2024, a student can receive up to $7,395 from a Pell Grant. The aim of these grants was to help households that struggle financially afford the cost of a higher education. It’s been around for decades!
The Process to Receive a Pell Grant
Each year, every student has the option to complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Students that have received financial aid in previous years need to continue to submit a new application each school year in order to maintain their funding. This application process determines your eligibility for a variety of financial aid opportunities. This also includes a Pell Grant!
Deadline to Submit a FAFSA
There is no deadline to complete a FAFSA in order to receive a Pell Grant. However, it is important to keep in mind that there are some financial aid opportunities that do not accept applications after a certain point. This can either be due to limits in funding or other deadlines. You can check out the deadlines of other available opportunities on this website. For this reason, it is important to submit a FAFSA as soon as possible each year to increase your chances of receiving financial assistance!
Pell Grant Eligibility
There are a few different factors that are considered when it comes to qualifying for a Pell Grant. Factors like income level and enrollment status are considered. Specifically, in order to qualify, a student must:
- Be an undergraduate student enrolled full-time or part-time.
- Demonstrate financial need through the FAFSA.
- Be a U.S. citizen or have eligible citizenship status.
In some cases, exceptions are made for a student who is not an undergraduate. For example, an exception can be made for a student enrolled in a postbaccalaureate teacher certification program. Undergraduate means a student has not earned a bachelor’s degree, or higher, yet.
Alternatively, there may be situations where someone meets the above qualifications, but they still don’t qualify for a Pell Grant. There are factors that automatically determine that a student is not eligible for this grant. This can be disheartening but luckily it isn’t super common! Typically, it is in relation to criminal offenses of the student. As mentioned before, students that are eligible to receive a Pell Grant or other financial aid need to resubmit their FAFSA each year. Otherwise, they won’t continue to receive assistance!
How Much Money Can You Receive From a Pell Grant?
There is a maximum amount of aid a student can receive with the Pell Grant each year. However, a student isn’t guaranteed to receive the highest amount possible. The amount a student can qualify for depends on their specific financial situation. For this current school year of 2023-2024, a student can receive up to $7,395. You can expect that the amount will change each year. For example, there was a $500 increase in the maximum amount a student can receive this year versus last school year!
Pell Grants are distributed each semester and not once per year. Let’s say that if a student receives the maximum amount each semester (using the 2023-2024 maximum of $7,395), they would potentially be receiving roughly $44,000 over that time! This is because eligible students can receive this aid for up to 12 semesters.
There are a few ways that you can receive financial aid funds from your school. Ultimately, the way that this is handled depends on the process each school has in place to distribute financial aid to its students. The financial aid office at your school will be able to explain their specific process! It is common for schools to write a check for the grant amount directly to the student. Whereas, other schools apply the grant directly to tuition costs and other expenses. And some operate with a mix of both of these systems!
Do You Need to Pay Back Your Pell Grant?
There are circumstances where you would have to repay all or part of your Pell Grant. Some examples where this could happen include:
- You left early from school therefore you no longer need help with education costs.
- You received other financial assistance that reduced your financial need for the grant.
- Your enrollment status changed affecting your eligibility (for example, you switched from full-time to part-time).
If you do not find yourself in one of these specific situations, you do not need to worry about paying back your grant. This is because grants are considered a gift!
Pursuing a college degree is a major expense that many people believe they can’t afford. However, government financial opportunities like Pell Grants make pursuing higher education more accessible. This assistance is available to undergraduate students that demonstrate a financial need. They also need to meet various other requirements.
One advantage is that grants do not have to be repaid. Qualifying students can receive up to $7,395 per year from a Pell Grant for tuition and other related expenses. You can determine if you’re eligible for a grant by submitting a FAFSA. The best part is that by doing this, you can also review what other forms of financial aid you are eligible for! If you need more information about Pell Grants, contact the financial aid office at your school.