Pell Grants are one of the most common federal educational grants available for students who are considering going to college. This is one of the only sources for free money from the government to help pay for college. These grants are not based on academics; they are based on the financial need of the student. And the grant does not have to be paid back.
Grant amounts depend on the following; the students expected family contribution, the student’s enrollment status (full time or part time), if the student attends college all or part of the school year, and the cost of attending the college.
There are strict qualification requirements for a Pell Grant. They are as follows; the student cannot be a prisoner in any federal or state prison, student must be enrolled in an undergraduate or post-baccalaureate teacher credited program, and there must be a financial need.
The standard form used to determine the financial need of the student is the expected family contribution (EFC). The lower the EFC, the higher the amount the student will receive. If the EFC is higher, than the financial need is lower, so that student will receive less. The lowest EFC score is 0 and the highest is 3,850.
A student must fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in order to be able to receive a Pell Grant. Once this is done, the student will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) which will inform them if they are eligible or not for the grant, and will provide them their EFC. Students cannot receive a grant for more than one college at a time.
Participating colleges will either credit the students account, pay them directly, or a combination of both, for the amount awarded by the Pell Grant. If the college decides to pay it out to the student, then they must do so at least once per term (semester, trimester, or quarter).
Figuring out how to pay for college may seem daunting to high school students considering their options for the future. One of the ways students still in high school can prepare for college is to do well in their current classes and learn about educational grants. Receiving excellent grades even in their hardest classes is not only an accomplishment during high school, but can lead to the students receiving more aid to attend college. The federal government has programs in place to reward these students that put a lot of hard work in leading up to their time spent pursuing a higher degree.
The Academic Competitiveness Grant, or ACG, is awarded to students entering their first or second year of college by the U.S. Department of Education. The merit-based grant is given to those students who have successfully completed “rigorous secondary school programs of study” during high school. The curriculum must meet one of the following qualifications in order to be considered rigorous:
Programs authorized by state agencies as challenging
Honors programs developed by state agencies
Advanced Placement courses in which the student scored a three on higher on the AP exam
A program that consists of four years of English, three years of math, three years of science, three years of social studies, and one year of a language other than English
Once it has been determined that a student’s high school curriculum is qualified under one of these categories, the student must also meet several other requirements. They must be a U.S. citizen, a Pell Grant recipient, a full time student enrolled in a degree-granting program, and be a first-year student that has never been enrolled in an ACG-eligible program before or a second-year student with at least a 3.0 GPA.
So just how much money can a student get by being awarded the ACG? First-year students eligible for the education grant for college can receive up to $750 each year while second-year recipients of the grant can receive up to $1300. Once a student has been awarded the grant, the U.S. Department of Education will pay the student’s college directly or send a check to the student to give to their college.