Federal Pell Grant
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.
How much can I get?
The maximum Pell Grant award for the 2011-12 award year (July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012) is $5,550. The amount you get, though, will depend not only on your financial need, but also on your costs to attend school, your status as a full-time or part-time student, and your plans to attend school for a full academic year or less.
The maximum award amount is given for any Pell Grant eligible student whose parent or guardian died as a result of military service in Iraq or Afghanistan after Sept.11, 2001. You must be under 24 years old or enrolled at least part-time in college at the time of your parent's or guardian's death.
Note: Fiscal Year 2011 appropriations eliminated the allowance of receiving up to two consecutive Pell Grant awards during a single award year. Beginning with the 2011-12 award year, you may receive only one Pell Grant award during a single award year.
If you received a Pell Grant for the first time on or after July 1, 2008, you can only receive the Pell Grant for up to 18 semesters or the equivalent.
If I am eligible, how will I get the Pell Grant money?
Your school can apply Pell Grant funds to your school costs, pay you directly (usually by check), or combine these methods. The school must tell you in writing how much your award will be and how and when you'll be paid. Schools must disburse funds at least once per term (semester, trimester, or quarter). Schools that do not use semesters, trimesters, or quarters must disburse funds at least twice per academic year.