As election season heats up and candidates establish their platforms and policies on higher education funding, Pell grants have gained new attention and focus nationwide.
As with all financial aid applications, the first step to follow when seeking a Pell grant is to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA.
Pell grants are typically awarded only to undergraduate students, and are solely based on financial need. The amount of aid received is dependent upon financial need, cost of attendance, and full-time or part-time attendance status; it is not dependent upon chosen major or other aid received.
Every student who is eligible for a Pell grant receives funds.
During the 2012-2013 school year, which ends June 30, 2013, students can receive a maximum of $5,550, and may receive aid for up to 12 semesters total. Students whose parents were killed in the line of duty in military action in Afghanistan or Iraq post- Sept.11 may be eligible for additional Pell grant aid or aid through the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant.
Students who are eligible for Pell grants also get priority consideration for the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, which is specifically reserved for undergraduate students with “exceptional financial need.” Unlike the Pell grants, however, not every eligible FSEOG candidate will receive funds.