Approximately 83% of Americans say they can’t afford college. Although an education is considered important to the majority of families, most believe the cost of an education is completely unaffordable and therefore, don’t consider it a viable option. The truth is the federal government has a financial assistance system in place specifically for low-income individuals. Furthermore the less your income the higher the grant amount you could be awarded.
There are many types of grants available to students. We will focus on the Federal Pell Grant. Every year the Pell Grant allows over 3 million students to attend college. In addition, the government provides over 150 billion dollars in grants yearly. If you have thought about attending college but fear you can’t afford the tuition please read on.
Recently the Huffington Post conducted a survey where a majority agreed that a college education is necessary in order to get ahead in life, compared to just 28 percent who said it was not. Another interesting survey conducted in 2015 stated that 70% of working adults hate their jobs. Are you one of them? If you are it is imperative that you know you have options.
What is the $5775 Pell Grant?
The Pell Grant was created back in 1972. A Pell Grant is money the U.S. government provides for low-income students. More and more students qualify for grants and the amount usually increases every year. A Pell Grant does not need to be paid back. If you qualify you can be awarded a maximum of $5775 according to your need on a yearly basis.
How Do I Qualify?
Federal Pell Grants are limited to students with financial need, who have not yet earned a bachelor’s degree, or who are enrolled in certain post-baccalaureate program through participating institutions. They use a formula called the Expected Family Contribution or EFC to determine your eligibility and award amount. Working full time does not automatically disqualify you. We will discuss the requirements in detail below.
How Do I Apply?
The first step is completing and submitting a Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Applying online is free and gives you access to many sources of financial aid to pay for college or career school. Your FAFSA application is used by the Department of Education to determine which assistance if any, you qualify for. This application will be intricate, it’s important you are as honest as possible when filling out the form. This is a federal document and should be treated as such. You can also ask for assistance in filling out the FAFSA. Start by calling your school’s registrar office. Inform them you would like to come in for assistance on filling out the FAFSA form. They will not charge you. Remember to bring your W2’s, paystubs, expenses etc.
Facts About Pell Grants:
- A Federal Pell Grant does not have to be repaid.
- Beginning 2015 you can receive a maximum of $5775.
- The amount depends on your financial need.
- You can have full-time or part-time student status.
- Students may not receive Federal Pell Grant funds from more than one school at a time.
- You must plan to attend school for a full academic year.
- Participating institutions either credit the Federal Pell Grant funds to the student’s school account, pay the student directly or combine these methods.
Which College Can I Attend?
Students have a choice of over 5,400 participating postsecondary institutions. If you are concerned that your college won’t accept you because of financial assistance or a grant don’t be, students who receive financial assistance are considered a high priority for enrollment. Click here for a list of colleges who accept the federal Pell Grant.
How Do They Decide If I Qualify For A Pell Grant?
According to the U.S Department of Education, there is a basic formula that is used to distinguish which students have a higher financial need. Along with the basic requirements, income plays the largest role in qualification as grants are income based. Below are the basics on determination:
- The student’s expected family contribution (EFC)
- The cost of attendance (as determined by the institution)
- The student’s enrollment status (full-time or part-time)
- Whether the student attends for a full academic year
- Being a citizen or eligible noncitizen of the United States.
- Having a valid Social Security Number.
- Having a high school diploma or a General Education Development (GED) certificate, or have completed homeschooling.
- Be enrolled in an eligible program as a regular student seeking a degree or certificate.
- Maintain satisfactory academic progress.
- Not owe a refund on a federal student grant or be in default on a federal student loan.
- Not have a conviction for the possession or sale of illegal drugs for an offense that occurred while you were receiving federal student aid (such as grants, work-study, or loans).
How is the EFC Determined?
- If the student is independent the EFC is determined by the student’s income and assets. If the student lives at home, the parents income and assets will be factored in the formula.
- The family’s household size, and the number of family members.
The EFC will be a sum of the percentage of the remaining income after subtracting allowances for basic living expenses and taxes. (2) a percentage of net assets remaining after subtracting an asset protection allowance. It is important to note that your Expected Family Contribution is not the amount your family will have to pay for college nor is it the amount of federal student aid you will be awarded. After your application is submitted, The Board of Education and your college will calculate your financial need and determine how much aid you will receive.
What Other Federal Grants for School are There?
Pell Grants are given automatically when you apply via the FAFSA and are given student aid, with the amount determined based on your need. But there are other grants.
- TEACH Grant — another federal grant that’s given out for students in specific education areas
- Perkins Loan — a federally backed loan given out in pre-approved amounts when you apply with the FAFSA.
In conclusion, we hope we have shed some light on your options for paying for college. Although it shouldn’t be considered the only way, it should definitely be in your arsenal. Therefore, if you were considering attending college and meet all of the above criteria, you should apply for a Free Application for Federal Student Aid today.