A Quick and Basic Award Definition

Written by Michael Bennet

While many people have a wide variety of interpretations of what the Pell Grant is, a proper Pell Grant definition is relatively simple and straight forward, and should clear up any misconceptions people may have about this financial aid instrument.

A quick definition of the Pell Grant program would consist of the following statement, “the Pell Grant is a federal educational grant that is provided annually by the Department of Education to undergraduate students who may exemplify an exceptional level of financial need”.

To start, the Pell Grant is in fact a grant, and is therefore money that is given to students that does not have to be paid back like a student loan.

It is provided by the federal government, with funds being distributed by the Department of Education. Pell Grants are allocated on an annual basis, and therefore students must apply each year that they want to become eligible. Students must also exhibit the appropriate level of financial need to become eligible, which essentially means that they may have a difficult time paying for school out of pocket.

The following items can expand on the quick Pell Grant definition that I just provided:

  • Maximum Pell Grant amount is set at 5,645 dollars.
  • Eligibility is based on need, and primarily the expected family contribution.
  • Students must qualify for federal student aid to get a Pell Grant.
  • Undergraduate students will be able to qualify, graduate students will not, although certain professional degree programs may be able to qualify.
  • Pell Grant award amounts vary with regard to the student’s EFC.
  • Most students receive about half of the full amount.
  • Students can now receive a Pell Grant while going to school during the summer, and when they are taking a part-time schedule.
  • The official Pell Grant application is the FAFSA.
  • Pell Grant aid is disbursed on a semester-by-semester basis.
  • The Pell Grant can be used with other kinds of financial aid, although full scholarships negate a student’s ability to qualify.

These are just some of the basic items that students must grasp when they are looking for a proper Pell Grant definition. Key points to remember include the fact that the grant is heavily based on financial need, which is mainly indicated by the EFC.

Students must apply via the FAFSA, and they must be eligible to receive federal student aid at a qualified school in order to receive the Pell Grant. Applications must be submitted by June 30, although the earlier they are sent in after January 1, the better.