For many Americans pursuing a higher education is a major life milestone and a pillar of personal success. However, making this dream a reality can feel out of reach for many people. This is understandable when considering the incredible financial commitment it takes. Tuition and books alone can cost tens of thousands of dollars each year. Fortunately, the government understands that college is expensive. For this reason there are various financial aid options available to students. These options can help with the cost of education! One of those options are Pell Grants. In order to understand how you can receive a Pell Grant, you need to know how they work.
Pell Grants: Explained
As of July 1st, 2023 through June 30th, 2024, a student can receive up to $7,395 from a Pell Grant. Students have been able to benefit from Pell Grants for decades! A Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) determines a student’s eligibility for financial opportunities, including a Pell Grant. Students have the opportunity before each school year to apply. The FAFSA needs to be resubmitted annually in order to verify your qualifications. Keep in mind that you aren’t guaranteed to receive the same opportunities each year, but it never hurts to see what help you can get!
Pell Grant Application Deadline: What to Know
The Pell Grant does not come with a deadline that you need to submit an application by. However, other financial aid opportunities may have deadlines or yearly funding limits. You can review the deadlines for other financial opportunities on this website. Therefore, waiting to submit your FAFSA could negatively impact whether you are able to qualify for these other opportunities. With that in mind, it is in your best interest to submit a FAFSA as soon as possible every year.
Who is Eligible to Get a Pell Grant?
Pell Grants are given to students that need financial assistance in order to earn a degree. However, there may be students that fit into that category but still cannot qualify. Who are Pell Grants not for? Circumstances that automatically determine a student cannot qualify include:
- Currently being held in a state or federal prison
- Subject to an involuntary civil commitment upon completion of an incarceration period for a forcible or non-forcible sexual offense
Now that you understand who cannot qualify for a Pell Grant, you need to know who does. Eligibility requirements for this grant include:
- Have a U.S. Citizenship or other accepted status
- Enrolled half-time or full-time as an undergraduate student
- Can prove a financial need
- Enrolled in a postbaccalaureate teacher certification program, if not an undergraduate student. Exceptions are only made in unique cases.
The only way to be certain that you can receive a Pell Grant is by submitting a FAFSA each school year!
You Can Get Up to $7,395 with a Pell Grants!
The value of the Pell Grant that a student can receive has to do with their personal financial situation! Students who qualify can receive one for up to 12 semesters total. This means that someone can potentially receive more than $44,000 or more over roughly 6 years of schooling. That amount is an estimate and would vary based on each person.
Along with that, the program specifies the maximum amount someone can qualify for. It is common for the amount to change each school year. In fact, the grant increased quite a bit over the last few years! For the 2021 – 2022 school year, a student could receive up to $6,495. During the school year of 2022 – 2023, a student can qualify for up to $6,895!
When you receive your funds it may look different from how someone else receives their funds. The exact process that you will deal with depends on your school. The financial aid office at your school will be able to explain their process to you! Every school has their own way of handling financial aid funds. However, it is common for schools to either pay the student directly or credit their tuition amount on their behalf. Some schools may even do a combination of both!
Paying Back Your Pell Grant
It is important to be aware that there are certain circumstances where Pell Grant recipients need to pay back some or all of their grant amount. Although grants do not typically need to be paid back, it isn’t impossible. Some examples where repayment may be required include:
- Your enrollment status changed affecting your eligibility
- You received other financial assistance that reduced your need for the grant
- You withdrew early from school therefore you no longer need financial aid
Wrapping it Up
Most people have at one point considered whether or not they were going to pursue a college degree. If you are considering going to college for the first time or going back to school to finish your degree, your finances will likely influence your decision! That’s why financial options like the Pell Grant are so important for students to consider. Students that qualify can get up to $7,395 each year! Keep in mind this number changes every year and is expected to go up by a few hundred dollars for the 2024 – 2025 school year.
In addition to Pell Grants, there are numerous other financial aid opportunities for students. You need to fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) each year to determine what you’re eligible for. If you would like to know more about what opportunities are available to you, contact your school’s financial aid office. They are a great place to get more information. It never hurts to ask for help! You may be closer to beginning your path towards higher education than you realize. You just have to know where to start and what support is out there. Plenty of other students are figuring out their journey, so when you consider support resources, they may be able to make a world of difference! Getting an education can be more affordable through available opportunities.