The Federal Pell Grant provides funding to undergraduates. The unquestionable benefit for students is that any awarded funds do not have to be repaid. To qualify for the grant, you must demonstrate need based on the financial information you include in the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, commonly known as FAFSA. If approved for the grant, you may be awarded up to $5,645 annually, at the time of publication. Once your college awards you the Pell Grant, you can use the funds to pay for online courses.
Online Is Real School
Oftentimes, bricks-and-morter colleges and universities offer online and on-campus sections of academic courses to give students options. Even if you are enrolled in an online-only college or university, as long as the school is accredited and is approved to disburse federal financial aid funds, such as the Pell Grant, you can use those funds to pay for any academic courses.
Must Be Approved
Typically, higher education institutions post their accreditation status on their official websites and in print versions of their catalogs. In addition, when filling out the FAFSA, the presence of a college's federal school code within the online form is a clear indication that your college is approved to receive and disburse Pell Grant funds.
Some Committment Required
To receive Pell Grant funds to pay for online courses, you must commit to a part-time course load at minimum. Typically, as long as you enroll in one semester- or quarter-long, undergraduate academic online course -- three or four academic credits, depending on your college -- you can use the funds to pay for it. Most likely, however, you won't be awarded federal financial aid to pay for one-credit courses.
If you're pursing an undergraduate degree online, your Pell Grant can be renewed for up to 12 semesters, or roughly six years, according to the U.S. Department of Education. As an online student, even though you have flexibility to take courses at a range of institutions and transfer academic credits among them as you see fit, the Pell Grant will only be awarded at one higher education institution where you are enrolled.
Maya Black has been covering business, food, travel, cultural topics and decorating since 1992. She has bachelor's degree in art and a master's degree in cultural studies from University of Texas, a culinary arts certificate and a real estate license. Her articles appear in magazines such as Virginia Living and Albemarle.