Pell grants are free federal funds for higher education. Like all federal education loans and grants, Pell grants are approved from the U.S Department of Education. then the funds are transferred to the financial aid office of the school where the student is enrolled. Once the financial aid office has applied tuition fees to the student's account, the Pell grant is applied; then the remaining balance, if positive, is disbursed to the student.
The first step to receiving a Pell grant is to obtain eligibility. Obtaining eligibility is done by visiting www.fafsa.gov. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is an application to the Department of Education that collects a potential student’s information. The information gathered pertains to the educational background of the student, financial means and family background.
Pell Grant Eligibility
The Pell grant is available to two types of students. The first are undergraduate students. The second category is certain graduate students, such as those who are completing their first professional degree such as law or medicine. The other eligibility factor is a student's income, which according to the U.S. Department of Education is estimated by applying the cost of the college tuition rates, the student's attendance status (full or part-time) and the FAFSA information.
As soon as you submit your online FAFSA, you are given a preliminary need amount which the Department of Education refers to as EFC or the student's expected family contribution. The EFC amount is determined by the information you submitted with your FAFSA. This information will be mailed to the student once it is completely processed by the Department of Education. In addition, the student will receive an award letter from their college that will show the amounts they have been given.
While a student can be awarded a Pell grant before they are enrolled in college, it will not be disbursed until they are enrolled in classes. Once a student is enrolled in classes and the semester begins, the school's financial aid office can disburse the Pell grant at any point during that semester.
The Pell grant disbursement can come in several forms; however, it depends on what method the student's school has chosen to return Pell grant funds. For instance, the Pell grant disbursement can come in the form of a check, a deposit to your bank account via a direct deposit method or a credit to your student identification card which can be withdrawn at a banking institution.