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What eligibility criteria do they consider for student grants for people from low-income households?

I’m filling out applications for financial aid for various colleges around the US. I know student grants are the best because you don’t need to pay them back. Can I apply for student grants as an incoming undergraduate? Are there government grants for students from low-income families? What are the requirements when filling out a student grant application and which office would I need to talk to so that my application can be reviewed?

Frank Nichols

in Student Loans

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Tara Andrews on February 5, 2018

There are different packages for student funding and most students in the US rely on some type of funding to cover their tuition and living costs. You may apply for:

  • Scholarships: If you are an outstanding student or high achiever whether in academics, sports or some other extra-curricular activity, you may be eligible for some free cash and in some cases, even a full scholarship which covers the entire cost of your tuition and living expenses.
  • Grants for students: Very rarely will you find a school or the government giving a grant directly to a student, especially an undergraduate. Mostly, it will be a wealthy individual, the government or a corporation channeling money for some specific cause. The school can then direct those resources as agreed upon with the benefactor. Graduate and doctoral students may be given grant funding if they are involved in research.
  • Loans: These have to be paid back and form the bulk of our 1 trillion dollar student debt.
  • Work-study programs, which enable you to work and study at the same time, so that you can have some extra cash for living expenses.

What you are looking for is a federal or government student grant, specifically a Pell Grant which is awarded to undergraduate students only. The grant is need-based obviously, which would perfect for you. The first step in applying for student grants under Pell is to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, which is basically where your eligibility for student aid will be determined. I would also advice that you apply for financial aid from the colleges that you are applying to, some of which might demand that you be eligible for the Pell money before they can award you financial aid. Also, do you think you have any academic and extracurricular qualities that can qualify you for a scholarship? I’d suggest that you apply for those too. Casting your net far and wide is a good thing because then you always have options.

Your application for student grant considers your needs and awards you based on that, which looks at factors like your net family income, number of dependents in your household and location among other things. Check with the specific colleges you want to apply to and see if they have anything for students like yourself. It would be better to be forthright and honest on your FAFSA application.

Wilson Hansena year ago

Undergraduate student grants are usually covered under Pell grants and very rarely will you find private grants for undergraduates. Your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is an important parameter that is considered when awarding Pell funds. The EFC is drawn from your FAFSA application. The underlying principle is that your parents are expected to contribute something to your education, but even if they are not, you still have a right to it. Pell recipients are only eligible for a maximum of 5500 dollars a year, which means you need to look to other sources of funding to fully go through your education. The criteria they look at are:

  • The expected expenses above the EFC
  • Your enrollment status, whether part or full-time
  • Enrollment for a full academic year
  • Tuition and educational costs at the school you’ve enrolled in.

Pell will certainly not cover all your costs, so look to other avenues too.


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