You might be wondering, what is a Pell Grant? A Pell Grant is money given out by the federal government to people who wish to take either college-level or grad school courses but have difficulty paying the high tuition. Pell Grants do not need to be repaid ever – as grants, they are free.
The U.S. Department of Education administers the Federal Pell Grant program. To apply, you simply have to follow proper instructions and meet all the qualifications. Eligibility is based on need. The Pell Grant application requires financial information about the student and, if the student is considered dependent, his or her parents. This application is called the FAFSA, which stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. There are four ways to obtain an FAFSA.
- A student may request that the U.S. Department of Education send the FAFSA. To do so, the student should call 1-800-4-FED-AID or write to Federal Student Aid Information Center, PO Box 84, Washington, D.C. 20044. The student should be certain to specify the award year she is requesting, i.e. 2013-2014.
- The financial aid office of all postsecondary schools should be able to supply the student with an FAFSA. Most schools will have stamped their FAFSAs with their specific school code. Also, most schools have financial aid advisors who can help the student fill out the application.
- High schools and local libraries often have FAFSAs as well. A high school student interested in a Pell Grant should contact her high school counselor to see what assistance she may be able to offer. Many libraries put the FAFSAs near the tax forms, but if they're not there, ask at the information desk.
- The recommended way to fill out an FAFSA, however, is online. The student should go to www.fafsa.ed.gov and follow the instructions. If the student is in a time crunch, the web route is definitely the way to go as online FAFSAs are processed much more quickly than the paper versions. It is possible to save an incomplete FAFSA and return to it later. This is especially useful when the student realizes he or she needs that information from the parent's 1040 tax form!
Be sure to apply for a Pell Grant on time. Federal Pell Grants are one of the best types of student aid available since, unlike student loans, they do not have to be repaid. If your income level makes you eligible one, it can change your life and help you fulfill your dreams. An FAFSA is a must for every college student in financial need. So pay attention to the instructions and FAFSA deadline! Don't miss out on free money for college because of turning in paperwork late.