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5 1/2 Things About the Pell Grant

Today is the spring financial aid Pell recalculation date. That means your Pell Grant eligibility is determined by the number of credits you’re registered for, as of today. If you’re like me (before writing this), you probably have no idea what the Pell Grant is. Or maybe it’s just a set of words you’ve heard floating around financial aid or scholarship documents. Fear not, we have you covered on how these grants can help you with the financial burden of college. Keep reading for 5 ½ things about Pell Grants.

1) What are Pell Grants?

Pell Grants, according to the Federal Student Aid Office, are “awarded only to undergraduates seeking their first Bachelor’s degree who display exceptional financial need and have not earned a bachelor’s, graduate, or professional degree.” Essentially, you must be an undergraduate student who could benefit from extra financial aid from the federal government. Pell Grants also operate a lot more like a traditional scholarship (not a loan) and, in most cases,  do not need to be paid back after they’re awarded. Lucky you!

2) How do I apply for Pell Grants?

Pell Grants are awarded and determined by your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®). It’s another reason to be on top of your application. As long as you’re actively awarded aid in the current semester (or a future date within the academic year), you can still submit a FAFSA for review. June 30th is the deadline for the FAFSA for the 2021-22 academic year, so it’s an important date to write down. After that, you can slowly chip away at getting it all completed.

3) What kind of needs qualify me for grants?

There are a few things that the Federal Student Aid Office will look at in determining your needs. Spoiler alert: they’re pretty similar to what any other scholarship application will look for. They include total family income and assets, number of credits you are enrolled in, and long-term attendance plans within higher education.

4) What else can help my chances of receiving Pell Grants?

The easiest way to maintain Pell Grants (as well as any other scholarship or financial aid) is to consistently fill out your Free Application for Federal Student Aid every year as well as maintain adequate grades. You should be aware that family income and circumstances could also affect your yearly eligibility, so make sure you stay on top of updating your FAFSA when something changes. You’re eligible for Pell grants for 12 terms if you’re a full time student (if you’re less than full time, you may qualify for more than 12 terms) or until you receive your degree so take advantage of the extra assistance while you can!

5) Does this affect other scholarships I want to apply for?

No! Because Pell Grants are awarded through the federal government and the Federal Student Aid Office, you’re still more than able to apply for other local, national, or private scholarships. We have some great advice for navigating the scholarship world in our #ScholarshipSZN article.

5 ½)  How did Pell Grants start?

To make a very long history lesson short, Pell Grants were first initiated through the Higher Education Act of 1965, pushed by President Lyndon B. Johnson to improve higher education across the United States. In 1972, Senator Clairborne Pell (described as the “mother of Pell Grant”, as I’m sure you can guess) helped to reform the HEA act and its distribution of funds. The Pell Grant, originally called the “Basic Grant”, helped provide the baseline foundation of financial aid for students, the same foundation that is still in use today. There’s your short history fact for the day!

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