What is a Pell grant?
A Pell grant is a federal grant for post-secondary education that is awarded as part of a federal program. The amount of aid depends on the student’s financial needs.
Students are eligible for Pell scholarships for post-secondary schools, including universities, colleges, trade schools and other training programs. Unlike other federal financial assistance programs, Pell grants do not have to be repaid.
Key points to remember
- Pell grants are awarded based on financial need.
- Applicants must complete a free application for federal student assistance (FAFSA®).
- The amount a student can apply for is determined by the school financial aid advisers who review the student’s application.
A student applying for a Pell grant must fill out a free application for federal student aid (FAFSA®). The application can be completed online and requires financial and tax information about the student and their family. The schools the student requests to receive an electronic copy of the request.
How a Pell grant works
Financial aid counselors at the student’s post-secondary school determine the total amount a student can claim from the program. Their calculations use the difference between the expected family contribution (EFC) and the cost of attendance (COA) to arrive at a subsidy amount.
- The expected family contribution (EFC) is based on the taxable and non-taxed income of the student and his family and other assets such as social security benefits and investment accounts.
- The cost of attendance (COA) is based on tuition and fees, as well as the cost of books, room, board and other expenses.
Pell Grant funds can now be used year-round, a significant change from the original program.
Financial aid advisors may also consider any assistance from other sources such as scholarship programs and loans when determining the level of funding for the Pell grant.
In some situations, post-baccalaureate students may receive a Pell scholarship.
Special Considerations on Pell Grants
Not all colleges and universities accept Pell grants. To date, more than 5,400 post-secondary schools are participating in the program. During the academic year, between July 1, 2020 and June 30, 2019, the amount of the grant increased to $ 6,095, according to the United States Department of Education.
Participating higher education institutions can credit the Pell scholarship to the student’s account or pay the student directly, usually by check. The school must release funds at least once every quarter. The term varies depending on the school and can be a semester, a quarter or a quarter. If the selected school does not have defined attendance conditions, the grant funds are released at least twice during a school year.
Initially, the Pell scholarships did not cover summer sessions, which affected thousands of students. President Donald Trump signed a federal spending bill that established year-round access to funds, starting in July 2020.
In a press release issued in 2020, Justin Draeger, president and chief executive officer of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, said: “As part of Pell all year, students who wish to continue their education while throughout the year will receive financial assistance when they need it, rather than having to wait for the next semester, which ultimately allows them to finish their studies faster so they can get into less debt and enter or re-enter the workforce faster. “