Pell Grant Online
The Pell Grant program is a type of post-secondary, educational federal grant program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education. It is named after U.S. Senator Claiborne Pell and originally known as the Basic Educational Opportunity Grant program. Grants are awarded based on a "financial need" formula determined by the U.S. Congress using criteria submitted through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
The Pell Grant is covered by legislation titled the Higher Education Act of 1965, Title IV, Part A, Subpart 1; 20 U.S.C. 1070a.
Because of the high levels of need required to obtain a Pell grant, receipt of them is often used by researchers as a proxy for low-income student attendance and to indicate the economic diversity of the student body.
A Federal Pell Grant, unlike a loan, does not have to be repaid. Pell Grants are awarded usually only to undergraduate students who have not earned a bachelor's or a professional degree. (In some cases, however, a student enrolled in a post-baccalaureate teacher certification program might receive a Pell Grant.) Pell Grants are considered a foundation of federal financial aid, to which aid from other federal and nonfederal sources might be added.
The Federal Pell Grant Program provides need-based grants to low-income undergraduate and certain post-baccalaureate students to promote access to postsecondary education. Students may use their grants at any one of approximately 5,400 participating postsecondary institutions. Grant amounts are dependent on: the student's expected family contribution (EFC) (see below); the cost of attendance (as determined by the institution); the student's enrollment status (full-time or part-time); and whether the student attends for a full academic year or less.
Students may not receive Federal Pell Grant funds from more than one school at a time. Financial need is determined by the U.S. Department of Education using a standard formula, established by Congress, to evaluate the financial information reported on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and to determine the family EFC. The fundamental elements in this standard formula are the student's income (and assets if the student is independent), the parents' income and assets (if the student is dependent), the family's household size, and the number of family members (excluding parents) attending postsecondary institutions. The EFC is the sum of: (1) a percentage of net income (remaining income after subtracting allowances for basic living expenses and taxes) and (2) a percentage of net assets (assets remaining after subtracting an asset protection allowance).
Different assessment rates and allowances are used for dependent students, independent students without dependents, and independent students with dependents. After filing a FAFSA, the student receives a Student Aid Report (SAR), or the institution receives an Institutional Student Information Record (ISIR), which notifies the student if he or she is eligible for a Federal Pell Grant and provides the student's EFC.
Federal Pell Grants are direct grants awarded through participating institutions to students with financial need who have not received their first bachelor's degree or who are enrolled in certain postbaccalaureate programs that lead to teacher certification or licensure. Participating institutions either credit the Federal Pell Grant funds to the student's school account, pay the student directly (usually by check) or combine these methods. Students must be paid at least once per term (semester, trimester, or quarter); schools that do not use formally defined terms must pay the student at least twice per academic year.