A federal grant program for students en route to earning their bachelor's degree, Pell Grants have helped countless individuals pay for college.
Designed to lessen the financial impact and burden of higher education on low-income families, the Pell Grant began as 1965’s Higher Education Act. Named after Rhode Island Senator Claiborne Pell (D) who throughout his political career worked on financial aid.
From supplies and books to tuition and fees, colleges’ financial demands are constantly increasing. This leads to an expanding divide between within our society, a divide that goes on to impact the workforce, culture, and governance. As a way of combating the wedge effect of rising higher education costs, the Department of Education designed a federal financial aid program.
Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
Students must file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid if they would like to be eligible for federal financial aid (for example, the Pell grant), but also other organizational scholarships require a FAFSA to have been filed. Prepare and expect to report various, essential financial information for both student and family. The process can take time, but it is important to be thorough.
Student Aid Report (SAR)
A Student Aid Report (SAR) is returned in response to a filed FAFSA. It is within the SAR document, delivered either by mail or e-mail, that the designated award amount is revealed, included with the expected family contribution.
The amount awarded is based on an applicant’s cost of attendance, financial need, and status as a full-time or part-time student. The United States Department of Education designs the evaluation for determining the amount an applicant is awarded. Established in the spirit of making education available and within reach for those in need. Grants may be used at approximately 5,400 institutions for post-secondary education.
Current Award Maximum
The current award term for the 2014-2015 year has a maximum possible award amount of $5,730. The amount an individual is awarded depends on multiple factors and evaluations set by the Department of Education. If your family has high means and you are a dependent, do not expect to receive the maximum amount.
The maximum amount is adjusted from year to year. For reference, the previous 2013-2014 term had a maximum award amount of $5,645.
Other financial aid
The Pell grant is by no means the be-all, end-all of financial aid for the higher education endeavor. It is not designed to be such. Do not expect to have tuition covered. The Pell grant is a supplemental assistance, a loosening of the belt. However, it is a great support. Do not get discouraged to apply. Not filing a FAFSA hinders your path to many other financial aid opportunities out there. If someone’s going to get it, why not have it be you?
There is a lot of money out there for college students. The catch is putting in the time and energy for researching and sifting through them to find what you, personally, are eligible for and then going out for it.