Did you leave college due to financial or other reasons or is the hefty tuition price tag scaring you away? The recent increase in the Federal Pell Grant award amount to $5,920 may be exactly the push you need to go to college. Plus, even if you don’t qualify for this grant, there are plenty of other grants for college and financial aid options that you should consider.
The Federal Pell Grant Amount You Can Expect to Receive
The Federal Pell Grant, the largest federal grant program for undergraduate students, increased slightly from its previous amount, $5,815, on July 1, 2017, due in part to the rising cost of college tuition and fees. The new amount, $5,920, a $105 increase, will remain in effect until June 30, 2018. Whether or not you will receive a grant and the amount you qualify for will largely depend on the following factors:
- Your financial aid need
- Your cost of attendance
- Your status as a full-time or part-time student
- Your plans to attend school for a full academic year or less
You will receive the full amount you qualify for if you are eligible. Each school receives funding from the federal government to issue grants to those who qualify. If you are also eligible for other types of aid, they will not affect the amount you will receive from the Pell Grant.
It is important to note that you will only receive a Pell Grant for one school at a time. The maximum amount possible changes annually.
How Much Does the Grant Increase By Each Year?
The amount awarded for this grant increases annually via legislation by the US Congress. This is in accordance with the Higher Education Act of 1964, which requires grant funds to increase annually. The total budget for these grants is largely dependent on the grant amounts as well as the number of recipients in need of financial aid. In 2015, 8.3 million students received financial assistance through the Pell Grant.
Who Can Qualify for a Pell Grant?
Not everyone will qualify for a Pell Grant. To receive one, you must be an undergraduate student who has not yet received a bachelor’s or professional degree. There are a few cases, however, where students who are enrolled in a post-baccalaureate teacher certification program may receive a Federal Pell Grant under certain circumstances.
You will not qualify to receive any college grant if you are incarcerated in a federal or state prison or are subject to an involuntary civil commitment upon completion of a period of incarceration for a forcible or non-forcible sexual offense.
How to Get a Pell Grant or Other Types of Financial Aid
To be considered for college grants as well as any other types of financial aid, you need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) starting October 1 the year before you plan to go to college. After you fill out the FAFSA, you will find out which types of federal funding you qualify for, including the Pell Grant, other federal grants, work-study opportunities, and student loans. The Federal Student Aid office provides a list that details each type of federal grant available and what the requirements are for receiving each one.
It is encouraged that you apply for federal aid, even if you may feel like you may not qualify. According to USA Today, about $2.9 million in college grants went unclaimed in 2015 because students did not apply for them. Anyone who meets the qualifications will receive some type of federal aid. In fact, nearly 75 percent of full-time college students received federal student aid to pay for college during the 2011-2012 school year.
What Are the Benefits of a Pell Grant?
There are several benefits of applying for a Pell Grant, including:
- Simple, easy application process: The application process for any type of federal aid is simple and easy. All you have to do you is fill out the FAFSA. You can complete this form in libraries, at secondary and postsecondary schools, or even on the internet for free.
- You don’t have to pay it back: As long as you’re eligible, you will not have to pay back a Pell Grant, unlike student and private loans. This can help you save thousands of dollars per year.
- Receive funds before school starts: If you meet the requirements for federal aid, you will receive funds at least once per quarter or semester, depending on the terms of your school.
- Funds are transferable: If you are awarded a grant and transfer to another college, you will be able to use the funds at your new school. You will not, however, be able to use the funds at more than one school at a time.
Other Types of Financial Aid
While the Federal Pell Grant and other types of federal loans can help cover tuition and related fees, they will not pay for the total costs of your college education. You will still need to pay for room and board, books, food, and other related expenses. There are many different kinds of private loans and scholarships that can help you pay for the cost of your education. In fact, there are more scholarships available than there are students that apply for them. According to Fortune, unclaimed scholarships reach about $100 million annually.
If you are in need of financial aid to fund your college education, there are plenty of resources available to help you. Even if you don’t qualify for a Pell Grant, there are several other options to pay for college as well. With all of the help that is available, you rest assured that you can get your tuition bills paid for and focus on what really matters, which is preparing to enter your future career.