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Obtaining a college degree is an important step many Americans take. Most are unable to simply write a check for their education and therefore are required to look at financial assistance. That’s where the College Benefits Research Group can help you decipher the ins and outs of the Federal Student Financial Aid process.

There are many different types of financial assistance available to college students:

  • Grants
  • Scholarships
  • Aid for military
  • Work-study programs
  • Aid for International study
  • Aid and other resources from the Federal government
  • Loans

Depending on the type of aid you are receiving, some aid does not need to be repaid.  Typically grants do not have to be repaid. However, there may be stipulations to that. For instance, grants can require the recipient to complete certain prerequisites to be free from financial obligation to reimburse.

History of the Federal Pell Grant

The Federal Pell Grant is named after Claiborne Pell, who was a Rhode Island Senator who developed the grant in 1972 as part of the 1965 Higher Education Act.

The Federal Pell Grants are used to help mostly undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need. There are exceptions to the undergraduate requirements, and one is for a teacher certification program that individuals obtain after receiving their undergraduate degree.

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Eligibility for Federal Pell Grants

There are limitations on the Federal Pell Grant concerning who cannot receive a Pell Grant in that incarcerated individuals do not qualify. All Pell Grant recipients are limited to using the grant for only one school. Federal Pell Grants are only available to U.S. citizens.

To apply for any federal financial aid, applicants must fill out their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. This form needs to be completed for each year of schooling.

Grant money is dependent on several factors:

  • Cost of attendance
  • Expected family contribution
  • Status as either a full-time or part-time student
  • Whether you are doing a full academic year or less

Federal Pell Grants allowed a maximum of $6,345 for the 2020-2021 award year. Each year, that amount may change. If a student enrolls in a summer or winter session, they can receive up to 150% of that maximum amount.

Federal Pell Grants may also be larger for students who are under the age of 24 and attending college at least part-time and who have lost a parent in a line of duty. This includes the death of military personnel and public safety officers.

To remain eligible for the Federal Pell Grant, students must maintain “satisfactory academic progress.” This is not defined by the government but instead by each school. It may require maintaining a certain Grade Point Average (GPA) or that a certain number of credits need to be taken at a time. Federal Pell Grants cannot be applied to more than twelve (12) terms, which is about six years of schooling.

To qualify for the Federal Pell Grant, it is important to fill out your FAFSA form as soon as possible. FAFSA forms can be processed starting on October 1st for the following school year.  As a recipient of the Federal Pell Grant, students can use the grant to pay tuition, books, supplies, and room and board.

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