The Pell Grant program aids students who demonstrate a high financial need for financial aid to attend college – millions of people owe their college education to Pell Grants. The government Pell Grant is one of the most prevalent and effective financial aid instruments currently in existence in the United States. A college education is an integral component in providing for a well-rounded and secure life experience. It wasn’t always as easy as it is now to attend college, and the success of both the national economy and the quality of life experienced in this country can be attributed to the much
needed award of government Pell Grants.
The Higher Education Act of 1965 was enacted to make financial assistance available to economically distressed students already attending college, as well as those working to earn a postsecondary degree. While the Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant was the main focus of this bill at its inception, it was the year 1972 when the Higher Education Act was actually amended to make way for the Federal Pell Grants Act which included needed funding for economically and socially disadvantaged prospective students. This opened the door to educational opportunities for those in social and economic groups that would have otherwise been unattainable.
The Pell Grant is designed to help fund some or all of the costs involved in earning an undergraduate degree inside nationally accredited institutions of higher learning. While not all colleges and universities participate in this program, it’s estimated that nationwide, all public colleges and ninety-percent of all private universities participate in offering government Pell Grants to their student population. If you’re a current or
prospective college student and think you may qualify, it all starts with completing what’s known as a FAFSA.
FAFSA stands for “Free Application for Federal Student Aid” and college admissions officers are charged with providing the detailed information needed to get things started. A government Pell Grant, unlike a loan, does not have to be repaid, but recipients must meet certain financial and personal accountability criterion. For those seeking Pell Grants, here are the basic things the approving agency looks at:
- The eligible amount awarded depends on your severity of financial need, the associated costs to attend school; your status as either a full-time or apart-time student, and whether you plan to attend school for a full academic year or less;
- Your parents income if you plan to live at home while attending college;
- Which school you plan to attend;
- Other available financial instruments awarded like scholarships;
- How many college credits you may already have;
- Whether or not you have certain past criminal convictions, and;
- If you have registered with Selective Service if under age 26.
Many times, if you’re not qualified for a Pell grant, you will be offered an option to apply for a low interest federal student loan.
Even in uncertain economic times, since the mid-sixties the federal government has been helping both current and prospective students achieve their dream of a college education by offering those who qualify government Pell Grants.