You know that common happy image of someone wearing a cap gown to their graduation? To continue that beautiful image we often think those guys are off to a bright successful future. We all want to think of our careers, as well as our kids’ careers to go that way. But education in the US is really pricey. Kids can grow up with that dream in mind, and their parents might have the same for them. However, in reality, a lot of people will find it difficult to make it happen. It’s not because school is that difficult, the issue is just money. We can’t just ignore the fact that education in the US is simply one of the most, if not the most expensive in the world.
For that very reason, many people will shy away from the idea of going to college or sending their kids to college. The concept of college debt is absolutely terrifying. Students take debts to go to school, graduate, then spend decades paying the debt back. Thankfully though, that doesn’t have to be the case. The government is well-aware of the issue. That’s why the federal government created several educational grant options that eligible people can use. Among those grants, options is the federal Pell Grant. The Pell Grant focuses on helping low-income families individuals and families find ways to finance their higher education journeys.
A Bit Of Information About The Pell Grant
If you’ve been on the lookout for government assistance for education, then you’ve probably come across the Pell grant. This grant program is pretty popular. The government created this program to help out students who can prove that they and/or their families are struggling financially. Obviously, there are certain standards of income that applicants must be below to apply for this program. On the brighter side of things, through this grant, students can receive up to $7,395 per academic year.
The thing about grants is that they’re not the same as any loan you might take for college. Students who manage to receive grants don’t have to pay them back in most cases. Grants, being different from any college loan, relieve students from the burden of paying back loans. That’s what makes the Pell grant such a tempting offer.
There Are 2 Types Of Grants
When applying for educational grants, students will most likely come across one of 2 types of grants. First, there are need-based grants. This type of grant often focuses on helping students who display an exceptional need for financial help from the government. That means the government invests in these programs to help finance students whose income is too low to afford to go to college. That exists mainly because education in America is basically the most expensive education system in the world. Seeing that the government would prefer to see less people spending their lives paying off college debts, they create such programs to help curb that issue. But, as you can probably guess, there’s a lot of competition for such grants. So, applying the right way, as soon as possible is the way to go.
The second type of grants students may find is merit-based grants. This type of grant is meant for students who have special skills. Usually, merit-based grants will offer financial help to students who have special academic and/or athletic skills. So, to receive benefits from need-based grants, the applicant must put in a lot of work. It’s understandable that not everyone has such skills, hence there are the need-based ones.
Who Can Actually Apply For Pell Grants
The thing with federal assistance programs is that they’re not meant for just anyone. The idea behind these programs is to help those who need them. Especially when it comes to such grants, the government prioritizes people who have low income. That’s why the government created an equation to calculate whether someone qualifies for the grant or not. The equation is based on 2 specific numbers, the applicant’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC), and Cost Of Attendance (COA).
How The Government Decides If Your Income Is Low Enough
Before you start getting confused by all these terms, let’s simplify things here. The government calculates your EFC based on numbers related to your/your family’s income and assets. So, basically, the government wants to check how much you and your family earn, as well as the value of the stuff you own to decide if you’re eligible for the grant. To crunch these numbers, they’ll look at your family’s taxed and untaxed income, assets, and benefits. On top of that, the government will check the number of members in your family, as well as the number of members in your family who are going to college in the same year.
On the other hand, the government will also focus on the Cost Of Attendance (COA). Your COA will simply include the following:
- tuition and fees;
- the cost of room and board (or living expenses for students who do not contract with the school for room and board);
- the cost of books, supplies, transportation, loan fees, and miscellaneous expenses (including a reasonable amount for the documented cost of a personal computer);
- an allowance for child care or other dependent care;
- costs related to a disability; and/or
- reasonable costs for eligible study-abroad programs.
How To Actually Apply For The Pell Grant
It’s quite simple really. All applicants need to do is to fill in the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form. Students will also need to fill in the same application for every academic year they’re going through. As we’ve already mentioned, students will need to prove their financial need for the grant. However, it’s really important to remember to only provide truthful information. If applicants provide untruthful or inaccurate information, it may result in delays, or worse yet, application rejection.
There’s Another Educational Grant Program But It’s A Little More Exclusive
There’s another grant that works pretty similarly to the Pell grant. It also focuses on helping low-income students pay for their educational journey. This one’s called the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG). FSEOG and Pell share a lot of their benefits. Students who receive FSEOG benefits don’t have to pay back the money to the government. Students may also receive anywhere between $100 and $4,000 in grant benefits per academic year.
The differences, however, highlight what stands out about FSEOG, compared to Pell. First, of all, FSEOG grants are only available through schools that participate in the program. That means students may only apply for FSEOG if their school is already enrolled in the program. Besides that, the government assigns certain FSEOG grant budgets to each school. So, if a school spends its whole FSEOG budget in a certain academic year, no more students may apply for the grant, and if they do, they’ll probably receive a rejection.
Finally, to apply for FSEOG, students will basically go through the same steps they would take to apply for Pell. When applying for FSEOG, students will need to fill in the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) with accurate and truthful information. They will also need to fill in that form every single year they’re still in school to continue receiving grant benefits.