Pell Grants – Better Ways to Ensure Eligibility

Pell Grants – Better Ways to Ensure Eligibility

Many of us would love to be eligible for free college money, especially Pell grants. These pell grants are the granddaddy of all the free money offered for school in that they do not have a payback date. If you are eligible for a pell grant, congratulations! If not, the following are some great ways to make a checklist and ensure you will be next time around.

First off, fill out your FAFSA. Do your taxes early each year and immediately use your tax info to fill out your FAFSA. A FAFSA is then used by the government to determine your eligibility for a Pell grant. Bottom line: no FAFSA, no Pell grant. Fill it out, or lose any hope of getting any kind of money. If anything, it will qualify you for loans in case your grant falls through.

Make less money. The FAFSA computation uses “expected family contribution” (EFC) to determine how much of a Pell grant you qualify for. If you make too much money, or someone in your house makes too much money, you will not qualify for a Pell grant. Also, if you hold too much money in accounts, this is noted on the FAFSA and you will not qualify for your Pell grant. If you need to, you might be able to file taxes separately from family members that make too much money. Check with your local tax preparer to see how to become an independent student if that will help you to qualify for a grant. If you’re already acting as an independent, then why wouldn’t you want to qualify as a grant-eligible independent student?

Master’s degrees do not qualify for Pell grants. They qualify for other grants, but not the Pell grant. Pell grants are only for Bachelor’s degrees. Getting your bachelor’s degree or lower will ensure your eligibility, and you can worry about additional funding after you’ve received your bachelor’s degree.

Have your high school diploma or GED. If you don’t have these things, they won’t even consider you. You probably already have these things if you are attending a school of higher learning, but make sure you have all your ducks in a row before you count on a Pell grant.

Be a citizen or eligible noncitizen. If you don’t have your residency paperwork all tight, you won’t qualify for a Pell grant. This means filling out your selective service paperwork, crossing your T’s and dotting your I’s. If you have questions about who qualifies as an eligible noncitizen, you can check with your local financial aid department or your immigration law office. Talk to friends that have been through the same types of experiences as you to see what they know about eligible noncitizens.

All of these steps are essential in ensuring your personal eligibility for a Pell grant. If you fill out your FAFSA, make little enough money, are working on a Bachelor’s degree, have your high school diploma or equivalent, and are a citizen or eligible noncitizen, you should have it in the bag. Otherwise, get cracking on your checklist above!

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