Before we begin to explore the various Pell Grant qualifications that you must satisfy in order to become eligible for the Pell Grant, it is first important to note that the Pell Grant has changed many of its rules, and limits for the 2010-11 school year. The changes that have been made are almost all advantageous to any prospective student applicant, and if you have been thinking about your Pell Grant eligibility, there has never been a better time to put yourself in position to get approved for the Pell Grant.
The Pell Grant now has a simplified form that has made it much easier, and faster to apply. Gone are the days where you had to be taking a minimum amount of enrollment hours to receive aid, and with these current changes you can now receive aid during all semesters throughout the year—fall, winter, and summer. The best news is that the actual award amounts have been increased, with the maximum award amount for the 2010-11 school year raised to 5,500 dollars. These changes will hopefully only be a part of a continuing effort by the federal government to expand the Pell Grant on an annual basis, and with the way things are going now this should continue into the foreseeable future.
Getting to Know the Pell Grant Qualifications
That being said, you first must become eligible to receive the Pell Grant before you can benefit from the higher award amounts for the 2010-11 school year, and to do so you must first identify the appropriate Pell Grant qualifications that will in fact make you eligible, or ineligible. There are essentially two major kinds of federal Pell Grant qualifications, the ones based upon financial need, and the ones based upon other factors. The Pell Grant is a federal grant that is geared towards providing students that come from lower-income families with aid to attend college. You thus need to demonstrate a substantial financial aid before the Pell Grant will be awarded to you, and the way the government evaluates this is by the calculation of what they call the EFC, or expected family contribution.
The EFC is supposed to be a direct indicator of the amount of funding your family is able to contribute towards your education-related expenses, and it occupies the first category of federal Pell Grant qualifications all by itself. If your EFC is lower than the appropriate cutoff threshold that the government has set for that school year you will have satisfied the most critical Pell Grant qualification, your ability to demonstrate the appropriate financial need for Pell Grant funding, and therefore be one step closer to becoming eligible for the Pell Grant.
The cutoff threshold for the 2010-11 school years is set at 4,617, so if your EFC falls below this value you will have satisfied this important qualifier. You are probably now wondering how your EFC is determined, and you should be happy to know that it is calculated simply by utilizing the information that you provided during the submission of your FAFSA. The FAFSA is essentially the only Pell Grant application that you need to pay attention to, and by filling one out on-time, and in a complete manner you will automatically be putting yourself in the running for the Pell Grant. More specifically, the EFC metric is calculated by taking into account such factors such as your parents’ income and assets, your income (and assets if you’re an independent), the size of your family, and the number of family members that are currently attending postsecondary institutions. Other factors that are also used include the age of your parents, whether you, and your parents have paid all of your income taxes for the previous year, and whether or not both parents work.
This information should all be provided when you fill out your FAFSA, and upon completion of your FAFSA you will actually receive confirmation of what your explicit EFC value is, along with your status in regard to your eligibility for the Pell Grant. You will be able to view this information along with other sorts of data that relate to your FAFSA submission in what is called the Student Aid Report, or SAR. The SAR is generated upon completion of your FAFSA, and you should make it point to go over it closely to make sure that all of the information that you provided is correct, and to check up on your EFC, and your Pell Grant eligibility.
The Assortment of Pell Grant Requirements
Now that you have an idea of how to apply for a Pell Grant, and how your EFC serves as an indicator for your financial need, you must now learn about the other category of Pell Grant qualifications that you must satisfy in order to become eligible for the Pell. Many financial aid gurus insist on referring to these as the Pell Grant requirements, but the term requirements and qualifications can essentially be used synonymously. It is important to go through all of these requirements to make sure that you pass each one, as not passing even one item will make you ineligible for the Pell Grant. The most critical requirements for the Pell Grant are as follows:
-You must be a United States citizen, eligible non-citizen, or United States national.
-It is a must that you either possess a high school diploma, GED, or be able to pass what is commonly referred to as an “ability to benefit” test.
-If you don’t have a valid social security number you won’t be able to qualify for the Pell Grant, as this is one of the staple qualifications.
-If you are a male who is between the ages of eighteen, and twenty-five, you must register yourself with the Selective Service.
-You may be ineligible if you have a criminal record that has caused you to serve jail-time at one point or another.
-If there is a drug-related offense on your record you may become ineligible unless the specifics of your charge, or the date of your charge exhibit characteristics that prevent you from being classified as ineligible. You may also be able to avoid being classified as ineligible if you have completed a proper drug rehabilitation program.
-The school you are attending should currently be participating in the Pell Grant program, as there are about 5,400 postsecondary institutions from across the nation that do.
-You must be enrolled in an undergraduate degree-oriented program and be making satisfactory academic progress as defined by your school, although certain professional programs do qualify.
-You will not qualify if you have defaulted on a previous federal loan, or if you have a Pell overpayment on your record.
-You won’t qualify if you have already received a full scholarship that can cover all of your education-related costs for the upcoming school year.
These are the most critical qualifications that you must pay attention to if you want to become eligible for the Pell Grant. The information that is used while evaluating each of these is submitted when you fill out your FAFSA, and keep in mind that failing just one of these will be grounds for an ineligibility status for the Pell Grant. The aforementioned list, in combination with your EFC serve as the two major categories of qualifications for the Pell Grant, and if you can satisfy each one properly you should have no trouble becoming eligible for the Pell Grant.
The Pell Grant Amount
Just because you are eligible to receive aid by way of the Pell doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be able to qualify for the full amount that is available, as most students only qualify to receive about half of the 5,500 dollars that are available for the upcoming school year. The actual Pell Grant amount that you qualify for comes down to the available funding your school receives from the government for the Pell Grant, and other factors such as your EFC, the cost of attending your school, and your enrollment status.
Once you have confirmed your eligibility via your SAR, you should expect to hear back from your college at some point during the springtime in the form of an award letter. Within this letter should be a detailing of the amount of Pell Grant aid you have been approved to receive for the upcoming school year, and the only thing left to do after that is to accept the amount of aid that was given to you.