A Pell grant is a federal educational grant. Pell grants are need based, and if you meet the income qualifications and complete the proper paperwork, you can obtain the grant. Qualified students can use the Pell Grant to pay for educational expenses, which include tuition, books, room and board.

What is a Pell Grant?

A Pell grant is an educational grant that the federal government provides to students with economic need who are attending a qualifying college or university. A grant is not a loan, and you do not need to repay it. The government provides the funds to the school, which in turn provides the funds to you either by crediting your account or by sending you the money directly.

How to Qualify

Every student who wishes to apply for a Pell grant must first complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You can complete a FAFSA either online or by mail. To qualify, you must be enrolled in an undergraduate program at a participating school or in certain post-baccalaureate teaching programs.Your family must meet income requirements based on household size, net income and net assets.

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How Schools Disburse Funds

The government gives participating schools the choice of either crediting your school account with the funds or sending them directly to you. The school can apply the funds directly to your tuition, fees, room and board without your authorization and send you any funds left over.

Expenses Covered

The Pell grant must be used for educational expenses. Educational expenses include tuition, fees, books, room and board. You can pay for your housing expenses with your Pell grant money.

About the Author

Rebecca K. McDowell is a creditors' rights attorney specializing in bankruptcy and related issues, including security interests, state and federal tax, and foreclosure. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature and a Juris Doctor.