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All About Pell Grants

Updated on November 20, 2013

What is the Federal Pell Grant Program?

Pell Grants are open to everyone going to college as a way to help pay the costs. The money you get through grants does not need to be paid back, unlike a student loan. Pell Grants are awarded based on a few things, and you must fill out a FAFSA. Do you have a financial need? Can you show this need? What is the cost of attending the college of your choice? Are you going to be a full time or part time student? How much of the school year will you be attending college? How much are you expected to contribute out of your own pocket to pay for your education?

All these questions must be answered and analyzed by you and the financial aid office of your college before determining if you qualify for a Pell Grant.

These grants are awarded either fully or partial. That is, depending on the need, you can get anywhere up to the maximum amount of $5,500. Even getting a smaller portion can help pay for college.

Remember, you cannot get any kind of financial aid until you fill out a FAFSA.

Where to apply

Any financial aid awarded is only done after completing your FAFSA. You can go to to fill one out online. Make sure you have all of your financial records handy, including tax returns, bank statements, employment records, etc.

Any time that you complete your FAFSA, apply for college, and get accepted, you are in effect, applying for financial aid. This will of course include Pell Grants. Whatever college you choose to send your FAFSA information to will start the process and notify you if you are admitted to the college or university.

Pell Grants are not the only financial aid you will need. There are other forms such as college work study, student loans, and the colleges own scholarships. The less you borrow, the better. In fact, it is better to dig into your own pocket, get a part time job, or find other ways to scrape up cash than it is to get high student loans.

Graduating with as little debt as possible should be your goal.

More Federal Grants

Pell Grants are not the only grants available from the federal government. Here are some more:

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) is for college students who have very large financial needs. Every college that is part of the program gets some of this money to give to their students. It is available to a limited number of students, as the money could run out. Even if you show extreme hardship, if you apply late, you may be out of luck.


Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant is available for college students who are enrolled in teacher education classes and plan to be a teacher. Also, you must agree to work in various areas or you will have to repay the money.


Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant are for children of war vets who died in Iraq and Afghanistan. There are income and age requirements.


Almost every state and college has their own grants. Check out the financial aid office for details.

Once again, every grant requires you to fill out that FAFSA!

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    • michelleart profile image

      Michelle Collins 3 years ago from Florida

      Pell Grants helped me pay for cosmetology school many years ago. It shocks me how many people do not know anything about them. Great info here!