To apply for Pell Grant online funds you must first complete and submit the FAFSA form. These are the most common types of grants students apply for in modern times, and also the most commonly awarded. The primary purpose of the Pell grant program since its inception is to assist students experiencing financial hardship by paying some or all of the costs of their higher education.
Pell Grants 101
Pell Grants are primarily awarded to undergraduate college applicants who live in households meeting certain income threshold criteria. Determining financial eligibility takes the income of the entire household into consideration, including the student’s, parents’ and any other household resident’s income. In cases where the Pell Grant applicant is not a dependent student, exceptions might be made to exclude the income of the parents.
Qualified households must earn a cumulative household income of $50,000 or less for applicants to qualify. Competition to obtain Pell Grant funds is fierce, however, and many applicants are experiencing severe financial hardships. Therefore, most Pell Grant funds are awarded to qualified candidates whose total household income is $20,000 a year or less. Applying for Pell Grant funds as early as possible is important. Funds are disbursed based on need.
You might be experiencing legitimate financial hardship. If you apply at the same time as another applicant whose household income is significantly less than yours, however, the funds are likely to go to the other applicant.
Funds are also distributed directly to participating colleges, universities and other educational institutions. Over 6,500 institutions participate in the Pell Grants program today, including many high-quality online colleges. In fact, all colleges accepting FAFSA also accept Pell Grants. Once you are approved to receive the funds, the government sends your funds directly to your school. Your school then applies the funds either directly to your tuition costs or other fees. Pell Grant money is only distributed by schools directly to qualified students if tuition is already fully covered via scholarship or another form of payment.
How Much Are Pell Grants Worth?
Federal Pell Grants are worth a maximum of $6,495 per year per student. Some awarded funds are as low as $650 (program minimum). The average Pell Grant amount awarded per student each year is approximately $2,000, however. Funds might also be disbursed in multiple installments as opposed to one lump sum.
Again, the amount you are awarded depends on:
- Your household financial status.
- Your tuition price.
- The amount you/your family can afford to contribute towards tuition.
- Your status as a full-time or part-time student.
- Your intention to remain in school for the entire funding year.
- Competition for grant funds at your school.
- Regional economic factors.