The Federal Pell Grant Program is one which provides financial aid and grants to students with low-income backgrounds. This is done with an intention of promoting, sustaining and ensuring access to quality education while preventing finance related issues from acting as an obstacle. The core area where the Pell Grant Program is active is at the undergraduate level. In certain cases, nevertheless, a student enrolled in a post-baccalaureate teacher certification program too is eligible for a Pell Grant. In contrast to loans, the amount received through Pell Grant do not require repayment.
The Pell grant can be considered to be relatively more generous and flexible in the provision of college grants and this attributes to its popularity among people. Though the funds given to an eligible candidate are not really monumental, they are more or less equivalent to the other undergraduate federal grants available. Its upper limit is currently at $5,500 per year. The actual Pell Grant amount an eligible candidate receives is dependent on a number of factors, with the predominant ones being the Expected Family Contribution(EFC), cost of attendance, and enrollment status. The EFC is an amount arrived at through calculations and policies of the Department of Education using the information submitted by the candidate in her/his Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form.
Qualifying for a Pell Grant can require a substantial amount of paperwork and has its own set of complications. This is because there is a tendency where in nearly all students from a university apply for the Pell Grant irrespective of whether they really need it or not. They do so due to the various other value additions which Pell Grant eligibility brings in with it and the most significant among them is that it makes eligibility for financial aid through other programs and financial agencies a lot more easier. In fact, several other grants are specifically tied to a candidate’s eligibility for the Pell Grant and students stand a chance of losing out of financial aid opportunities from other agencies altogether .
Analogous to other financial aid systems, the Pell Grant too have certain drawbacks. Even though the grant given to a candidate can be as high as $5,500 per year, the university fee structure for degree courses and other related expenses make the amount received through Pell Grant lesser significant these days as compared to earlier times. While the Pell Grant could cover upto 60% of a student’s expenses during the 1990′s, it covers approximately only a lesser encouraging 30% of a student’s financial requirement these days. This makes access to other forms of finanacial aid and loans an absolute necessity by students if they’re really serious about pursuing a graduation degree.
All in all, it would be fair enough to say that the Federal Pell Grant Program does have plenty of good intention in their mission considering the millions of students who have benefited from this program over a period of time.
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