Life happens, but whatever has occurred in your past shouldn’t prohibit you from building a better future. When it comes to advanced learning, having bad credit can make it a little difficult to get private student loans. Students with financial need can and should apply for federal Pell Grants – distributions that do not need to be repaid. Here’s what you need to know.
Every aspiring student deserves the opportunity to earn a degree. While money can sometimes be tight, it doesn’t always have to be a limiting factor. The federal Pell Grant program ensures that students with financial need receive fair access to higher education. Here’s how to make the most of it.
Have Bad Credit but Want to Go to School? You Need to Apply for a Federal Pell Grant. It’s Easy!
Students who wish to apply for a Pell Grant must be enrolled in an undergraduate program and must not have already earned a bachelor’s degree. You need to have already applied for an been accepted in, or be already enrolled in, either a certificate program or a degree program. You need to be a US citizen or a legally eligible noncitizen and you must have a high school diploma or GED.
Determining Financial Need
The US Department of Education will review your application to determine whether you qualify based on financial need. Your family income and other information is used to create your Expected Family Contribution. The government will compare this number to the cost of your intended program, taking tuition, fees, books, supplies, and even room and board into consideration.
How Much is the Pell Grant
The amount you qualify for will vary based on your EFC, but the maximum distribution for the 2017 – 2018 school year was $5,920. You can only have Pell Grant funds distributed to one college at any given time. Your school will receive the disbursement, apply what is needed to your tuition and fees, and then distribute the rest to the student at least once per semester so that the student can use the rest for qualifying expenses like books and supplies.
Students who had a parent pass away during post-9/11 military service in Iraq or Afghanistan may be eligible for additional funding if they meet certain criteria. If your EFC is too high, there is a separate Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant you may be eligible for instead.
How to Apply for a Pell Grant
As with any other financial aid or scholarship program, you have to start by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Completing this form automatically applies you for federal Pell Grants. Your college financial aid officer should be able to help you determine what grants and scholarships you are eligible for based on the results of your application. Keep in mind that you must fill out your FAFSA every year and may only be eligible for up to 12 semesters.
Don’t avoid college just because of your past financial woes or your current financial situation. Higher education is becoming more and more accessible, with one in three applicants qualifying for Pell Grants. Combine these grants with school aid and any other scholarship you may apply for and you’ll be well on your way to a brighter future.