Frequently Asked Questions about the Federal Pell Grant


To enable low-income students to enroll in college and to increase the percentage of college graduation in the United States, the Federal Pell Grant was initiated. With less than 6,000 universities in the United States participating, this program was able to make the dreams of some economically-disadvantaged students a reality. The Federal Pell Grant was named after Senator Claiborne Pell of Rhode Island.

Today, even with its existence, a huge number of students are still not aware how the Federal Pell Grant works. There are questions that are often asked—but not often answered. Through this article, we hope that we will be able to answer the most significant questions asked about Federal Pell Grants:

1. What are the eligibility requirements for a Federal Pell Grant?

Upon student submission of the necessary information, the U.S. Department of Education makes an immediate evaluation using its standard formula. This method enables the determination of the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) number, which, in return, reveals the eligibility of the student for a Federal Pell Grant. In addition, student applicants must be an undergraduate who has not yet earned a bachelor’s degree, a U.S. citizen or legal alien, with high school diploma or General Education Development (GED) or can display the capacity to do good from the program.

2. How much financial assistance can a student obtain from Federal Pell Grant?

For the award year 2010-2011, the maximum amount is $5,500. But, the exact amount that the student will receive from Federal Pell Grant still depends on the EFC of a student and a number of significant factors: cost of attendance (tuition and other fees, books, room and board, supplies, and others) and length of attendance (full- or part-time and full academic year or less).

3. Is the maximum amount available for both the full-time and part-time students?

Part-time students may be able to receive a Federal Pell Grant; however, they may be given an amount smaller than full-time students.

4. What are the responsibilities of the schools upon awarding of the Federal Pell Grant?

Schools have to inform the students, through a letter, the amount they will receive from the grant, how they will get hold of the funds, and when payments must be made. Payment must be made by the school at a minimum of one per term. On the other hand, schools that do not have established terms must pay at least two times per academic year.

5. Will the financial assistance reach the hands of the students?

The funds can be disbursed in three ways: (1) The school may directly credit the funds provided by the Federal Pell Grants to the account of the student; (2) give it to the student (normally through check); and (3) a combination of 1 and 2.

6. Is there a set number of semesters for students who obtained the Federal Pell Grant?

The students, who were awarded a first Federal Pell Grant on or after July 1, 2008, can grab the limited 18 semesters (or its equivalent). However, these students can obtain two similar grants for the same award year if they are interested to speed up their educational efforts.

7. How can students apply for the Federal Pell Grant?

Just accomplish the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) that is available online. Students must check with their preferred school for its filing date for this application to make sure about the timing of the filing.

Through the Federal Pell Grant, the government hopes to increase the chances of college graduation for students who belong to the low-income class. Education is their only passport to a quality life. In fact, it is safe to say that, it may be their only hope. So, they must be supported by a grant program such as the Federal Pell Grant. Therefore, it is but important that students are made aware of this educational opportunity, so they can grab it easily.

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