For college students, paying tuition can be difficult. The choice is often between accumulating a large amount of debt and working full-time, leaving little time to study or sleep. Scholarships and grants, which do not have to repaid, can save students a lot of money and energy.
The Federal Pell Grant is given to low-income individuals. Whether or not a student qualifies, and how much he qualifies for, are based on the Expected Family Contribution (EFC), as determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (known as a FAFSA) form submitted, as well as the student’s enrollment status and the tuition cost. The grant is issued to the educational institution where it is applied to the student’s tuition, distributed to the student via check or a combination of the two.
In most high schools and colleges student’s grade point average (GPA) is calculated by averaging a score based on how many credit hours (rather than number of classes) he has taken and the grade received in each course. Many colleges have a 0-4 scale for the GPA, with a 4.0 being a perfect score. Students earning a 3.0 on this scale have a B average, a 2.0 is a C average and a 1.0 is a D average. An F earns no points on this scale.
There is no minimum GPA required to receive the Pell Grant, though a student can lose funding by not maintaining what the specific institution defines as satisfactory academic progress. Typically, this status requires students to earn, at minimum, a 2.0 GPA. Since the GPA at most colleges is tallied both by semester and overall, a student with a previously high GPA who has attended for multiple semesters could, conceivably, earn lower than a 2.0 one semester and still remain in satisfactory academic standing because of his overall GPA.
Satisfactory Academic Progress
A student who is not making what the college defines as satisfactory academic progress is typically placed in the status of academic probation. While in this status, he may have his Pell Grant revoked. A student may be eligible to receive the Pell Grant in the future, after retaking classes and/or taking additional classes to raise his grades. However, individual colleges set many of their own criteria, are able to review cases individually and may allow a student to continue receiving aid for the first semester of academic probation, depending on the circumstances.
Jade Lynch-Greenberg is a writer, blogging enthusiast and educator. She teaches multi-modal writing in the university setting and has written for the web since 2002, and created comics since 2006. She write scripts, articles, scholarly documents and technical explanations, and holds a Master of Arts in English from Purdue University.