Pell Grant: What is the process?
March 5, 2011 4:50 PM   Subscribe

Pell Grant: What is the process?

Hello, I have been out of meaningful work for a while now, subsisting on freelance gigs from all over the place. It has worked to pay the bills, but that is about it. So I want to go back to school and get some classes in that will elevate my skill set.

I hope that I qualify for a Pell Grant, but I don't know all the issues involved with it. I have gone to websites that talk about PGs, but I just want a basic answer as to what are the basic requirements. My income is sufficiently low enough probably to qualify, but I don't know the details.

Can anyone help me untangle this query?

posted by lampshade to Education (10 answers total)
Is there a reason you can't talk to or email the financial aid office of the school you want to attend? They will probably not be like "Yes you will get a Pell Grant if you apply", but they are probably in the best position to tell you how eligibility is calculated.
posted by SoftRain at 5:03 PM on March 5, 2011

Are there specific questions you have that aren't answered here?
posted by scody at 5:04 PM on March 5, 2011

Response by poster: scody: "Are there specific questions you have that aren't answered here?"

A little more info - I plan on calling my local college admissions office on Monday to request assistance. I was just hoping for other pointers other than simplistic answers like "Just get an application and apply.". Duh. I am just looking for any pointers other than the obvious. Or is this process so straightforward it does not take much tweaking other than being a person who is not making much money?

It may seem like a stupid, but do I apply for the grant or to the school first? I am assuming that I can get help on aid from the school, but is there any limitation on classes that I can take?

This is only one a few times in my life that I have applied for aid of any type and I just don't even know the basics, so I am gathering what info I can.

BTW, I have seen the grant web page and I think I even have an account there. I never did hear back from them the first time, so maybe I did not fill something out correctly. I will check on that.
posted by lampshade at 5:17 PM on March 5, 2011

Best answer: As a recipient of the Pell Grant, I can tell you that the process really is just that straightforward. You fill out the FAFSA and if you are poor enough you qualify.

Amount received depends on level of income and enrollment level (full time student = full amount you qualify for, goes down from there).

You can fill out the FAFSA without being enrolled anywhere. Once you are enrolled, amend your FAFSA to have it transmitted to your school using their federal code. Or you can do it the other way around, if you like. It really doesn't matter very much, as long as you get the FAFSA done reasonably early. I would fill it out by the end of this month at the very latest.

It's a straight-forward form, especially assuming you've completed your taxes.
posted by asciident at 5:24 PM on March 5, 2011 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Here's information on FAFSA deadlines.

I think the deadline for a lot of places just passed. It was usually due between January 1 and March 2 of each year for me.
posted by aniola at 5:29 PM on March 5, 2011

Best answer: aniola, that depends on the state. The federal deadline is in September, but in Illinois (which is where OP's profile has him located) is "any time after Jan 1. until funds are depleted." So really, just fill it out ASAP.
posted by asciident at 5:32 PM on March 5, 2011

Best answer: Don't decide not to apply just because the deadline has passed; I've applied after the deadline and been fine.
posted by lesli212 at 5:44 PM on March 5, 2011

Best answer: Hi lampshade.

The Pell grant is a federally guaranteed program based on the result of your FAFSA application -- your "EFC" score will correspond with a pell award for each semester. For this aid year, if you had a 0 EFC you would have qualified for about $2,750 per semester. It goes down the higher EFC you get.

The priority deadline for FAFSA in a college is not a deadline for aid, especially pell aid and any other federal programs. It is there so institutions can encourage you to apply quickly and so we can begin to process and calculate your financial aid and finish it all before the Fall 2011 semester begins.

Keep in mind that the Pell grant is prorated based on how many credits you are taking. That $2,750 award was for a "full time" student. It goes down by a few hundred if you drop to 3/4 time, 1/2 time, or less than 1/2 time.

I like the site's EFC calculator. Give it a shot.

And yes, it does matter which classes you take and when you're taking them. Fill out your FAFSA and then contact your financial aid office.
posted by Think_Long at 6:35 PM on March 5, 2011

Best answer: that $2,750 figure I gave you also varies depending on the school you're attending. I just wanted to give you and idea of what it could be.
posted by Think_Long at 7:06 PM on March 5, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for the tips. I will take time today and clean up my entry on that site and call the school tomorrow.
posted by lampshade at 5:06 AM on March 6, 2011

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