Earning a college degree is a great accomplishment, but it does come with a price.
Because of high tuition costs and fees, many students rely on federal aid and grants to help them afford their college education.
Currently, Pell grant students face the challenge of fewer affordable colleges as the cost of higher education remains out of reach for many.
While tuition increases have slowed, tuition and fees have steadily become so expensive that Pell grant recipients struggle to find affordable schools without taking on excessive student loan debt.
The average student loan debt for a four-year degree is around $30,000, which can take students up to 21 years to pay off.
Learn more about Pell grants, who’s eligible for Pell grants, what the future holds for Pell grant students, and where to find professional college planning specialists.
What is a Pell grant?
A Pell grant is a federal educational grant issued to students with exceptional financial needs.
Unlike a loan, a Pell grant is money that does not need to be paid back.
Students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to obtain this grant.
The FAFSA is the primary application used by the federal government to determine a student’s eligibility for financial aid, including grants, loans, and work-study programs.
The FAFSA is available online and can be completed and submitted for free.
However, you will want to keep in mind that the sooner you apply for financial aid, the better your chances are of getting it, so pay close attention to your school’s deadlines.
June 30 is generally the cut-off date to apply for financial aid, but applying too close to that deadline can decrease the amount of aid you receive.
Who is eligible for pell grants?
Depending on your current situation, you may qualify for a Pell grant.
Upon completing this free application, you will find out if you’ll be accepted or ineligible for different types of federal aid like the Pell grant.
To make applying for a Pell grant go smoothly and quickly, have the following information ready:
- A federal student aid ID
- Bank Statements
- Driver’s license number
- Records of money you earned
- Federal income tax returns
- Records of untaxed income
- Social security number
- Your alien registration number if you are not a US citizen
If you’re eligible for the Pell grant the amount you receive will depend on various factors, such as your enrollment status, the cost of attendance for the school or program, and how much your family can contribute to your education.
Are Pell grant students running out of affordable options?
The Pell grant program was established in 1972 to provide financial aid to students from low-income families who would otherwise be unable to afford the cost of higher education.
Today, the program provides grants to more than 7 million students each year, making it the largest need-based program in the country.
However, due to the high cost of tuition, once again, many students are unable to attend school affordably.
Only 24% of four-year institutions and 40% of community colleges were considered cost-effective for Pell grant recipients during the 2019-2020 school year.
The average unmet financial need at a two-year community college is $907, and $2,627 at a four-year college.
Many of the most prestigious and well-regarded colleges and universities are simply out of reach for these students due to their high tuition costs.
When the Pell grant does not cover tuition and fees, a student must either take out a loan or apply for scholarships.
What does the future hold for pell grant students?
Funding for the Pell grant program has not increased in several years, making it hard for students to afford the cost of college.
Hopefully, in the near future, funding will be increased. But until then, students will have to do their research and speak with financial counselors and college planning specialists to determine the most cost-effective way for them to attend school.
One way that college-bound students and their families can address the challenge of finding affordable colleges is by comparing the financial aid offerings of different institutions.
While this may be a time-consuming and complex process, it’s essential to ensure that students can find colleges they can afford.
Using online resources and speaking with professionals can help students and their families identify colleges and universities with strong financial aid offerings.
This can help students find colleges they can afford without taking on excessive amounts of student loan debt.
Reach out to college planning specialists
When you seek out assistance from college planning experts, they can help you learn more about grants, loans, scholarships, and the financial aid process.
While researching and reaching out for help may take more time and patience, it can save you a lot of money and stress in the future.
Some of the things you can learn when you accept help from college planning specialists and take college planning classes are:
- How to find affordable colleges
- Increase your chances of getting into the school of your dreams
- How to get money from colleges and universities
- How to increase your chances of getting a Pell grant
- What you should do before applying for financial aid
- How to begin an appeal if you were unawarded