Pell Grants: Your Money Source?

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Finding money for college can make all the difference in the world for many students, funds which can help offset the cost of higher education. College scholarships play an important part in defraying spiraling tuition expenses with billions of dollars in awards dispensed annually.

college studentBut scholarships aren’t the only option for college students. Grant money, particularly in the form of the federal Pell Grant can make a huge difference for some students, especially those from low income backgrounds who are attending community college. Grants vary in amounts awarded ranging from $400 to $5350, but as the name implies these funds are not paid back.

Perhaps most notably is that these grants could take care of a significant chunk of college expenses for eligible students, monies which can cover transportation, fees, food and housing besides tuition.

But a Mar. 18, 2010 article in the “San Francisco Chronicle,” indicates that as much as $500 million in Pell grant money is left on the table each year. And that applies only to students in the state of California. According to the newspaper, those funds could help students take more classes and complete their education.

Unfortunately, the Pell grant process is a huge headache, perceived by many as complicated and time-consuming. Students must go to their college’s financial aid office for assistance in completing the paperwork but often find that many other students are doing the same, creating excessively long lines. Moreover, most aid offices are inadequately staffed while the online application process frustrates many.

Pell grants have a proven track record of enabling many students to continue with their education and transfer from a community college to a four year school. But relief isn’t quite yet on the horizon as proposed changes to streamline the process are currently being held up in a congressional committee.

If the proposed changes are approved, then the application process would be completed at the local level instead of going through Washington where just about everything seems to get delayed or lost these days.

One difficulty Pell applicants are facing is that students under the age of 24 must list parental income. That isn’t always easy for students to obtain with many families split up and others not dependent on parental support in the first place. Pell grants are available to undergraduate students who can demonstrate a financial need regardless of whether they attend school full-time or part-time.

For more information about Pell grants visit the US Department of Education website.

Links: Off To College | Say Student | Say Lending

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Categories: Grants