How to apply for a Pell Grant
The Pell grant application process is the same as any federal financial aid process—you need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The U.S. Department of Education determines your Pell Grant eligibility based on your answers on the FAFSA. Don’t forget to complete and submit the FAFSA as soon as possible, beginning October 1. Aid is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. You’ll need to re-apply for a Pell Grant every year you want one by submitting the FAFSA.
Getting your Pell Grant award
After you fill out your FAFSA, you’ll receive financial aid award letters from the colleges that you applied to and have been accepted to. Your financial aid award letters will outline how much the school will cost and what kind of financial aid package you'll receive for one year. Your aid package will include any grants you’re eligible for (such as a Pell Grant), as well as scholarships, work-study, and federal student loans.
If you’re eligible, you can get your Pell Grant money in a few different ways. Your school can apply Pell Grant funds to school costs; pay you directly, usually by check; or a combination of both. The school must tell you in writing how much the award will be and how/when it will be paid to you. The school also has to disburse Pell Grant funds once a semester or twice during the academic year. Usually, the college first applies the grant or loan money toward a student's tuition, fees, and room and board, if the student lives on campus. Any money left over is paid to the student for other expenses such as books, living expenses, and transportation.