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What is a Pell Grant?

Being one of the most popular federal grants among the low income undergraduates, Pell grant, categorized under educational grants, is the monetary grant provided to students by the US federal government for paying up fees for their college. It is usually considered as the foundation of the financial aid package of a student. It is provided to a student only for bachelor's education programs.

Pell Grant is originally known as the Basic Educational Opportunity Grant. The United States Department of education determines the student's financial needs and sponsors the grant accordingly. Over 5400 institutions all over the U.S. have participated under this grant program.

Eligibility: The US government uses a standard formula to determine whether a student is eligible for getting the Pell grant and if yes, in that case to determine the sum of money to be provided. Using this standard formula, an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) number is generated and according to divisions made, the amount of grant to be offered is decided. The EFC is calculated by adding: (1) a proportion of net income i.e. outstanding income left after subtracting stipend for essential livelihood taxes and expenses and (2) a proportion of net assets i.e. assets outstanding after subtracting an asset protection stipend. A student has to be an undergraduate during the time of application, must be a U.S. Citizen or an eligible non-citizen. The student must have completed his high schooling and must carry a high school diploma or any equivalent certificate with himself/herself. The candidate must not be a recipient of any kind of full scholarship from any other institution or organization. A student is not eligible for grant if he/she has completed his bachelor's program or registered in some sort of post bachelor's program and in quest of a grant for his/her master's degree.

Application: For applying as a candidate for Pell grant, a student along with his family must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form completely. The application process must be done prior to making any college admission process. The form filling can be done online through the official website i.e. fafsa.ed.gov. It can also be done offline through the Pell grant counselor present in the college. The online application process is extremely simple. You just have to follow the directives below the "fill out a FAFSA" segment. Post finishing the filling of the form, you get the choice to change any information below the 3rd step in form submission. After the submission of the form, the applicant needs to answer some simple questions which determine your eligibility for the grant.

Continuation: The grant recipient needs to annually update his academic records as he/she progresses in the college. Along with this the candidate also needs to submit his parent's/guardian's income status and information and his/her required amount of grant. The candidate needs to fill a fresh FAFSA form each year post 1st of January thereby confirming his requirement for the grant. Once the application process is completed and approved, the student is informed via regular postal delivery or email if funding is awarded. Parents or students are advised to always produce copies of the confirmation sheet and keep them for personal records.

Termination: If a student is charged with any drug-abuse related offense, he/she will be immediately terminated from the grant program. The grant will also be terminated if there is an existence of some outstanding Pell grant over payment. The student also needs to maintain his/her progress records in the college. Failing to do so, chances of grant termination are high.

Grant amount and usage: The Pell grant is awarded to a candidate once per term. The maximum amount awarded for 2015-16 is 5775 USD. This grant amount is provided to facilitate the student's college fees, accommodation and other miscellaneous expenses. The remaining amount, if any left can be used by the student for his personal expenses. This remaining amount can be ordered by the student as direct cash, check or bank account transfer. The thing that you should keep in mind when applying for this kind of a grant is that it is not like some kind of loan and need not be paid back to the government.

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