Pell Grant Rules

Pell Grant Rules

The Federal Pell Grant Program was designed with the intention of assisting lower income individuals to achieve higher education. The cost of college has continued to outpace inflation and average income earnings, nearly driving the dream of a college education out of reach. Pell Grants offer as much as $5,350 in tuition assistance for the 2009-2010 academic calendar year with a minimum of $609 in assistance.

In order to qualify for a Pell Grant, rules state that a student’s family must earn $60,000 or less annually. Typically, due to the number of applications that the federal government receives every year, the average family income of those who are awarded Pell Grants is less than $30,000. Grant programs, such as the Pell Grant, have limited resources and cannot be offered to every student who meets the requirements, so they are generally geared toward the lower income families first.

Pell Grants are available to be used in over five thousand schools across the United States. If a student has chosen a college or university that he or she would like to attend, the financial aid office of the university will be able to provide the application paperwork as well as guidance in filling it out.

The application process is free for any and all qualified applicants. A student would fill out a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form in order to apply for a Pell Grant. The FAFSA form is available at most colleges, universities, high schools, as well as online through the government website:

Once a student has been approved for the Pell Grant, it will be disbursed directly to the school. This is why the student must have selected a university prior to applying for a Pell Grant. While it is not uncommon for students to change schools either prior to starting their academic career or in the middle of the year, this can delay the disbursement and awarding process.

The money offered by the federal government will be held in the student’s tuition account to be applied to tuition fees upon registration. Any money that remains after tuition fees are paid out will be refunded to the student for use either with books, board, food, or any other living expenses the student deems necessary. This disbursement of funds will be based on the individual school’s disbursement policy and has nothing to do with the federal government or any guidelines it may have on the policy.

Students that feel as though they fall within the qualification guidelines to receive a Pell Grant should seek out assistance in filing the proper paperwork and should not wait until the new academic year is upon them. While Pell Grants are offered on a ‘needs,’ this doesn’t mean that funds in the program will still be available to those who apply late.

If a student, or parent, has any further question about Pell Grants, or ACG or SMART grants, they are encouraged to discuss these opportunities with either financial aid representatives from their college or university or high school advisors. They may also call (800) 433-3243 to speak with a federal representative.