A Pell Grant is a form of student financial aid. The whole purpose of the Pell Grant program is to provide money to pay college tuition for students who’s family has a low income. There have been programs similar to the Pell Grant in the past. Though, those other programs didn’t provide enough support for students that really needed financial help. The person who advocated a program to provide money to less fortunate students was a politician, Senator Clairborne Pell. He supported federal funds to students who where challenged to pay for higher education during most of his career. His legacy lives on today in the Pell Grant program.
Like most grants, a Pell Grant is a gift of money to a qualified student to pay for expenses related to higher education. Fortunately, many students from lower-income families qualify for this grant. Each year the national legislature sets a maximum dollar amount that can be awarded to each student. You will find, however, that is rare for a student to qualify for the entire maximum limit. This is because access to the grant is based on need. In other words, the federal government establishes a table for income.
The table showing awards and income levels are fairly easy to read. Many students and their families are surprised how much these tables estimate a family can contribute towards a child’s education. Still, grants are awarded based on the table and the total money put into the project each year to fund Pell Grants. So it’s important to be aware of what may or may not happen with your request and apply to all funding options.
Pell Grants are now part of the overall process of applying for financial aid. Years ago special education funding for students was handled by each college and their own scholarship fund. Since then it has evolved into the current national system that you access by initiating one process. Today, private scholarships exist outside the system while federal funds and some state monies come through the same process as the Pell Grant awards.
This specific part of financial aid is designed to help students who have trouble paying for college. In the case of Pell Grants “trouble paying” is more about you and your family being in a position where getting access to the money needed to pay for college is difficult than the family having a hard time getting loans. The program is targeted at lower income levels. In 2016 the poverty level for a family of four is $24,250. Thanks to massive unemployment, hopefully more students will receive Pell Grants.
The program was strongly inspired by the impact of Communist Russia getting a successful space program launched before the United States. The Senate made education funding a priority so that we as a nation could be a world leader science and space. One of the ways to do this was make sure individuals that might not make it to college and can contribute to the competitive edge of the USA.
Education still remains a priority along with many other needs in the federal budget. Pell Grant awards have no relation to inflation cost increases until 2017. A change that is good news indeed. Today a Pell Grant functions more as a puzzle piece in funding your education than a quick trip to easy money. Get all the facts so you can put together an effective picture to meet your money needs for college.
Number of Financial Programs Available
This list is from 2016 and includes a wide range of programs:
Federal Level Programs
State Level Programs
How much can you get from a Pell Grant?
Anyone can apply for a Pell Grant. Its just a matter if you are eligible or not. The number one thing you have to do is fill out a FASFA. The FASFA will determine your EFC which means “Expected Family Contribution“. Your EFC will determine if you qualify for a pell grant or not. The cutoff EFC for is $5,235 and figuring out how much you will receive is pretty easy. The maximum amount that you can receive in the 2016-2017 school year is $5,815. Let’s say your EFC is $2,500, you subtract $2,500 from $5,815 and you would get $3,315. Now if you have an EFC of $0 you get all the $5,815.