College provides a lot of opportunities as well as a lot of debt for students struggling to pay for higher education. Scholarships, grants and loans can steer a student through the laundry list of financial needs that go along with all that college coursework.
One of the top grants for which students can apply is the federal Pell Grant. These are specifically designed to cover costs that come with college, including textbooks, tuition and living expenses for students who qualify.
Although it can seem a daunting endeavor, applying for a Pell Grant in Texas is a relatively simple process. Create a strong Pell Grant application to ease your financial strain while you are attending college.
Fine Points of the FAFSA
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid form, or FAFSA, is the first step in gaining the funds from a Pell Grant. Any student who is looking for financial aid needs to familiarize himself with the FAFSA.
Pell Grant Eligibility
If a student has a significant financial need, a Pell Grant is definitely a good choice. To be eligible for a FAFSA Pell Grant, a student needs to have the following in place:
- Have a tuition fee of more than $200 each academic year
- Graduated from a high school in the United States or U.S. territory or earned an equivalent diploma
- Currently enrolled in an approved program and have a strong academic standing of at least a C average or above as of the fourth semester when the payment is due
- The student cannot be in default on any previous or current student loans acquired before or after receiving the Pell Grant
- Enrolled as a full-time student with no less than a 12-credit workload toward your chosen degree per semester
Students should continue to do their very best to stay in good standing and follow through with Texas high school requirements in order to get a Pell Grant in Texas.
Benefits of a Pell Grant
The advantage of receiving a Pell Grant is that you don’t have to pay back the funds at any time as long as you follow the rules. The Pell Grant is considered an award rather than a loan.
A FAFSA Pell Grant consists of funds reserved by the federal government for eligible students who show a financial need as well as a proclivity for learning and exceeding expectations.
How a Pell Grant Is Awarded
Once you have successfully applied for and received a FAFSA Pell Grant, the funds aren’t typically placed in your bank account. The college actually receives the funds from your Pell Grant and provides them to you based on a preset disbursement schedule.
The funds are typically distributed to students through either a physical check, direct deposit or cash. A 2018-2019 Pell Grant chart shows the disbursement schedule as well as the annual amount awarded to Pell Grant recipients.
College Requirements for Distribution of Funds
The college is required to notify you in writing of how they have decided to distribute the funds as well as when the funds will arrive in your account or when you can expect it to be delivered to your mailbox.
The college is legally required to deliver the Pell Grant funds to students at least twice a year.
Funds for Pell Grants
The maximum Pell Grant award is around $6,000. The Pell Grant funds that a student receives every year is dependent on a few factors. These include:
- The student’s financial need
- Any hardships that the student is confronting during the relevant academic year
- The amount of time that the student will be attending college during the school year
- The student's full-time or part-time status
Kimberley McGee is an award-winning journalist with 20+ years of experience writing about education, jobs, business trends and more for The New York Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Today’s Parent and other publications. She graduated with a B.A. in Journalism from UNLV. Her full bio and clips can be seen at www.vegaswriter.com.