Determine and Understand Your Pell Grant Status
Two-thirds of full-time undergrad students received some form of financial aid for the 2011 to 2012 school year, the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee reports, and the Pell Grant was one of those forms. Established under the Higher Education Act of 1965 as a means of helping the less fortunate to earn college degrees, approximately 5,400 higher-learning facilities across the nation accept the Pell Grant.
Not every student is eligible for a Pell Grant. Figuring out whether you are eligible or not requires the following:
- You must have completed a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
- You cannot already have a bachelor’s or professional degree.
- You must be enrolled in an academic program or be accepted to one as an undergraduate.
- You must possess a high school diploma or GED.
- You cannot be in default on a federal student loan or grant refund.
- You must possess a valid Social Security number.
- You must be a U.S. citizen, U.S. National, or possess a green card, arrival-departure record, battered immigrant status, or have a T-Visa.
- Males aged 18 to 25 must also enroll in the Selective Service.
The United States Department of Education accounts for 21,949,308 Title IV students submitting applications for a Pell Grant for the 2011-2012 college year, and 9,444,368 of them ended up receiving the funding. The typical student was awarded $3,651 for the 2013-2014 academic year, per the New America Foundation’s Federal Education Budget Project. Your award amount is determined by examining your Expected Family Contribution. If your EFC is lower than the maximum award amount, which will be $5,815 for the 2016-2017 school year, then you can expect to receive a Pell Grant. The exact amount is based on your EFC and your enrollment status. Thus, full-time students have higher educational costs and will receive more than those who attend only part-time.
No Strings Attached
This money, like any grant, is given to students with no requirement for repayment, unlike student loans. The Pell Grant is funded by the federal government. The College Cost Reduction and Access Act was established in 2007 as a way to restructure how funding works for the grant. The law stipulates a required increase in the supplemental amount awarded to Pell Grant recipients every year through 2017. The FEBP notes that about $4,860 of every Pell Grant awarded is still funded through an appropriations bill.
That being said, there is a lifetime eligibility restriction that goes hand in hand with accepting a Pell Grant. This limitation means no one can receive any further Pell Grant funds after they’ve met the 600 percent cap placed on the grant. Some students will become ineligible for other reasons prior to reaching the capped limit, too.
The simplest way to determine your current Pell Grant status is to log on to the FAFSA website with your pin and check the grant status under “FAFSA Follow Up.” Any student receiving a Pell Grant will be notified by postal mail, and sometimes electronic mail, too. Award amounts are detailed in these letters.
Around 37 percent of full-time undergraduate students received a Pell Grant for the 2011-2012 academic year, per The College Board.