Pell Grant Advice
by Daniel Okuniewicz
(Newton, New Hampshire, USA)
Pell grants are a great way to fund a college education, but when you apply for your FAFSA (the form that determines your pell grant award) you have to keep some things in mind.
Firstly, pell grants are based on financial need, not merit. Your FAFSA takes your EFC, or expected family contribution, into account, and then determines the appropriate amount to award you in pell grants. The maximum award possible for federal pell grants is a little less than six thousand dollars per year. Many states also offer their own pell grants, with the award amount depending on the state, but they only award the grants to state residents.
Secondly, there is a way to get more pell grant money if your EFC is too high to receive the aid you need. If you become legally emancipated, then the FAFSA form can be filled out with your own income instead of your family's income. If you're like most students, your income will be small or nonexistant, which means that you will be placed in the lowest income bracket when your award is being considered.
Thirdly, pell grants do not have to be repaid! However, you may also be awarded subsidized and unsubsidized federal loans. Both loan types have to be repaid, but subsidized loans don't have interest and unsubsidized loans do have low interest rates.
Finally, pell grants will be decreased or retracted if you do not make satisfactory academic progress. It's very important to keep your grades up to begin with, but if you rely on these pell grants to stay in school, it becomes even more important to do well.
I highly recommend applying for other scholarships and grants as well, because at any time the pell grant system can see more cuts like it did recently, and it's really not smart to rely on the government of all things for assistance, especially in matters of education.
Thanks for sharing your experience Daniel. Pell Grants are just one form of aid, and are great if you qualify. The FAFSA is the main application for many type of aid, but students should always check on state, college and private scholarships and grants. Best of luck to you.
Pell Grant A.K.A Free Money
Many students who fill out a FASFA are hoping and praying they will be able to get a Pell Grant (money you are awarded for being in a low income family, that you do not have to pay back). But truthfully, you have to be in a very, very low income family to be granted one of these. But if you are one of the "lucky" (depends on how you look at it) ones, after the bill goes through, if there is any money left over you actually get the remainder of it sent to you. Sadly a lot of people get so excited about this "free money" that they go on shopping sprees and then are broke two days later. So if you do get this money your best option is to keep it. Put it in a savings account and do not touch it, until the next school year when you need it again.
Sometimes at the end of the year universities even tack on extra miscellaneous fees that you have to pay. And if you have blown your "free money" here you are with a $2,000 bill and nothing to pay it with. So you are forced to add another loan to your list, or pray you can work enough to pay it off that summer. Personally, I kept any extra in an account and didn't touch it. So when I got my miscellaneous bill I was able to pay over half of it with my left over money and the rest I worked off and paid before the next school semester. Because I didn't go on a shopping spree I was able to keep myself from acquiring more student loans then I already had. Also, I was able to have a little more money that summer since it wasn't ALL going to my school bill.
The moral of the story is, if you save your money now and live frugally, in the future you will have more and will be able to live better than before.
Thanks Brittani for sharing your great advice to save your money and live frugally. Best of luck to you.
Something Is Better Than Nothing
by George Flores
(Davie, FL Broward County)
If you are a future college student who is looking for financial aid, the Pell Grant is perfect for you. In my experience, after being accepted into college and applying for financial aid, the Pell Grant will be helping me tremendously. I was awarded the highest amount, and will be given about five-thousand dollars per year. It may not be a vast amount like ten-thousand or higher, but it is still something. You will be able to get by why the help of the Pell Grant.
Considering how expensive college is, you will need every little bit of money and help you can get from financial aid or scholarships. Don’t take the Pell Grant for granted and by happy about receiving such a grant. There are other students out there in the same ball park as you who weren’t able to receive the Pell Grant. Imagine their struggle when they have to pay even more for classes, books and tuition.
With the help of FAFSA, every college should receive your SAR (student aid report). All you have to do is go online and fill out an application. Then as you are applying to colleges and being accepted, each college will decide if you are applicable for financial aid and may or may not give you the Pell Grant. But be excited and happy about the Pell Grant because think of it as free money every year. It’s better to have five-thousand dollars a year now then to be paying five-thousand dollars a year from student loans. I don’t think anyone would want to pay that.
So don’t waste any more time and go get that pell grant. Financial aid is here to help you. For FAFSA, each year you will be attending college, you need to fill another application out and hope to receive something for your troubles.
Thanks George for sharing your experience with the Pell Grant. Yes, every bit helps and $5000 can go a long way. Best of luck to you.