The Pell Grant program is a federal financial aid program that provides grants for college students who are unable to completely finance their education in other ways. It is a need-based program, and the amount of the grant is determined by a formula. This formula takes into account you or your family's income level and how much you can afford to spend on your education. You must be an undergraduate student with a high school diploma or GED in order to apply.
Gather the documents and information you will need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which is the application you will use to apply for a Pell Grant. Have the following items handy: your Social Security number, your driver's license, you or your parents' W-2 and income tax return from the last tax year, copies of bank statements and copies of any information on investments or mortgages. If you are still listed as a dependent on your parents' tax return, use their financial information and bank statements.
Visit the Federal Student Aid website by following the link provided under Resources. Click on "Fill out your FAFSA."
Select the applicable school year from the drop-down menu. Two upcoming school years will be listed. Select the year you would like to start receiving Pell Grant funds. Click "Next."
Provide the requested information on the first screen, including your name, Social Security number and birth date. You will also be prompted to create a password. Click "Next" after completing the questions.
Set aside approximately one hour to complete the form online. You will be prompted to enter personal and financial information in a series of questions. The majority of the information should be available in the documents you collected in Step 1. After you fill in each set of questions, click "Next" to go to the next page.
Enter the names of the colleges or universities that should receive the results of your application. If you do receive a Pell Grant, the funding will be distributed directly from your university. You will be prompted to enter this information after your complete the personal and financial details in Step 5.
Sign your FAFSA application electronically using a PIN number. When you get to the end of the application, you will be asked to enter a Federal Student Aid PIN to sign the application. Click the link entitled "Apply for a PIN" and provide the requested personal information. A PIN number will be generated for you to enter into the application.
Review the information you have entered in the FAFSA. If everything is correct, submit your application by clicking the "Submit" button. Your application will be transmitted to the Department of Education. You must submit the FAFSA by June 30 in order to receive grant funding for the following school year.
Make a note of the confirmation number displayed on the confirmation page after you submit your application. This number will be required if you have any questions about your application.
Wait for the results of your application. You should receive an email with a link to your Student Aid Report within three to five business days after submitting your application. This report will detail your expected family contribution--the amount you or your family will be expected to pay for your education. In addition, if you have been approved for a Pell Grant, the report will list the amount of grant funding you will receive.
Contact your university's financial aid office. Pell Grants funds are distributed directly from your college or university, so your financial aid office will be able tell you more about your grant award.
For the 2009-2010 application year, the maximum amount you can receive from a Pell Grant is $5,350. This amount may change each year depending on program funding.
If you need help filling out your FAFSA or have any questions about Pell Grants, contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center at (800) 433-3243.