The Most Critical Pell Grant Information
Before you go ahead and fill out your FAFSA it is essential that you learn about the most critical Pell Grant information, as doing so will increase your likelihood of knowing what to expect from this popular federal grant. The good news is that the Pell Grant has been modified for the benefit of students in a number of ways for the 2010-11 school year, and by taking into account these modifications you can become one of the first students who take advantage of such changes.
The 2010-11 Pell Grant will feature a simplified form that will make it much easier for students to apply. There are no minimum enrollment hours to become eligible for the Pell Grant in 2010-11, and there is now a higher income allowance for the maximum award amount. Semesters from every part of the year are now eligible, including full summer sessions, and total award amounts from across the board have been increased. While these may be the most up-to-date changes to the Pell Grant, they are not the only things that you need to keep in mind if you have been thinking about applying for a Pell Grant, and some of the most vital federal Pell Grant information has to do with what you need to know about becoming eligible for the grant.
Determining Your Pell Grant Eligibility
Determining you Pell Grant eligibility is probably the most crucial Pell Grant information you need to grasp in addition to the recent updates if you are thinking about getting this award. The federal Pell Grant eligibility requirements are fairly simple to understand, and the most important thing you need to keep in mind is that the award has been designed for students that demonstrate a significant financial need for such aid. This is essentially the most crucial factor, and is the one that you need to pay the most attention to if you want to become eligible for the Pell Grant.
The department of education evaluates financial need by using a formula that eventually returns a single variable result, commonly referred to as the EFC, or expected family contribution. The EFC is supposed to be a direct representation of what your family can contribute towards you college educational expenses, and it is determined by taking into account several pieces of information. The most important factors in determining your EFC include your parents’ income and assets, your income (and assets if you’re an independent), the size of your family, and the number of family members that are currently attending a postsecondary institution (excludes your parents). Other factors that may play a role in determining your EFC include whether or not you, and your family have paid your income taxes, the age of your parents, and whether or not both parents work.
All of this Pell Grant information is collected when you fill out your FAFSA, and once you have successfully filled it out you should then be notified of your eligibility status by way of your Student Aid Report. The Student Aid Report, or SAR, is a report that is generated upon completion of your FAFSA application, and within it should be an indication of your eligibility status for the Pell Grant. To give you an idea of the kind of EFC scores that warrant a positive eligibility status for the Pell, the highest cutoff to become eligible for any kind of aid at all is 4,617, and anything higher than that EFC score will thus make you ineligible for the Pell Grant. As long as your EFC is below this number you should be eligible as long as you satisfy a number of other Pell Grant requirements that may, or may not be applicable for your situation.
Other Pell Grant Requirements
If your EFC is lower than the appropriate cutoff threshold it is then up to your ability to pass the subsequent Pell Grant requirements if you want to become eligible for the Pell Grant. You first must have a high school diploma, GED, have been home-schooled, or have passed an “ability to benefit” test at some point in the past. You must be planning to attend one of the 5,400 participating institutions from across the country in a degree-oriented program, and you must be making satisfactory academic progress as defined by the school you are attending in that program of study. You should be working towards your first bachelor’s degree, although certain kinds of professional postbaccalaureate programs of study do qualify.
You must be a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, or eligible non-citizen, and you must have a valid social security number. You cannot have served jail-time in the past, and if you have a drug-related crime on your record you must have taken the appropriate recourse to resolve such action, or have attended an approved drug rehabilitation program. If you have received federal aid before then you should not have defaulted at any point with such aid, and you should not have an outstanding Pell overpayment. It is also important to note that you must be registered with the Selective Service if you are a male between the ages of eighteen, and twenty-five to become eligible for the Pell.
As long as you satisfy these Pell Grant requirements you should be able to become eligible for the Pell Grant provided that your EFC is under the appropriate cutoff amount. Once you have established that you are eligible, and have confirmed it by reading your SAR, your information will then be sent to your school for review. The actual Pell Grant amount you receive will then be dependent on a number of other factors, with the most important ones being EFC, cost of attendance, and enrollment status. Most students aren’t approved for the full amount of 5,500 dollars, and the average that most students are approved for is about half of the full amount that is available for that school year. After your school has collected all of your Pell Grant information, they will then return to you an award letter at some point during the spring that should specify the exact amount you qualified for. You should at least receive some aid if you satisfied the aforementioned Pell Grant qualifications and other eligibility factors, and just make sure that in the end you fill out your FAFSA in a complete and accurate fashion, and by the appropriate deadlines.