Pell Grant

Pell Grant

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A Pell Grant is money the federal government provides for students who need it to pay for college. Federal Pell Grants are limited to students with financial need, who have not earned their first bachelor's degree or who are not enrolled in certain post-baccalaureate programs, through participating institutions. The Pell Grant is named after U.S. Senator Claiborne Pell
Claiborne Pell
Claiborne de Borda Pell was a United States Senator from Rhode Island, serving six terms from 1961 to 1997, and was best known as the sponsor of the Pell Grant, which provides financial aid funding to U.S. college students. A Democrat, he was that state's longest serving senator.-Early years:Pell...

, Democrat of Rhode Island, and was originally known as the Basic Educational Opportunity Grant. A Pell Grant is generally considered to be the foundation of a student's financial aid package, to which other forms of aid are added. The Federal Pell Grant program is sponsored by the United States Department of Education
United States Department of Education
The United States Department of Education, also referred to as ED or the ED for Education Department, is a Cabinet-level department of the United States government...

 which determines the student's financial need. The U.S Department of Education uses a standard formula to evaluate financial information reported on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine the student's expected family contribution (EFC).

The Pell Grant is covered by legislation titled the Higher Education Act of 1965
Higher Education Act of 1965
The Higher Education Act of 1965 was legislation signed into United States law on November 8, 1965, as part of President Lyndon Johnson's Great Society domestic agenda. Johnson chose Texas State University–San Marcos as the signing site...

 (HEA), Title IV, Part A, Subpart 1; 20 U.S.C. 1070a. These federal funded grants are not like loans and do not have to be repaid. Students may use their grants at any one of approximately 5,400 participating postsecondary institutions. These federally funded grants help about 5.4 million full-time and part-time college and vocational school students nationally. For the 2010-2011 school year, 7 the top 10 colleges by total Pell Grant money awarded were for-profit
For-Profit School
For-profit education refers to educational institutions operated by private, profit-seeking businesses....

 institutions. Students at the top 4, University of Phoenix
University of Phoenix
The University of Phoenix is a for-profit institution of higher learning. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of Apollo Group Inc. which is publicly traded , an S&P 500 corporation based in Phoenix, Arizona...

, Ashford University
Ashford University
Ashford University is a private, for-profit university located in Clinton, Iowa. It is the largest educational holding of Bridgepoint Education...

, DeVry University
DeVry University
DeVry University and DeVry Institute of Technology are divisions of DeVry Inc , a proprietary, for-profit higher education organization that is also the parent organization for Keller Graduate School of Management, Ross University, American University of the Caribbean, Apollo College, Western...

, and Kaplan University
Kaplan University
Kaplan University is the "doing business as" name of the Iowa College Acquisition Corporation, a company that owns and operates for-profit colleges...

, received a combined total of nearly $1.9 billion in Pell Grant funds.

History


Today, the Pell Grant program assists undergraduates of low-income families, who are actively attending universities and or other secondary institutions. However, before the Pell Grant became what it is today it went through numerous changes.

In 1965, Congress passed the Higher Education Act of 1965
Higher Education Act of 1965
The Higher Education Act of 1965 was legislation signed into United States law on November 8, 1965, as part of President Lyndon Johnson's Great Society domestic agenda. Johnson chose Texas State University–San Marcos as the signing site...

(HEA). President Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon Baines Johnson , often referred to as LBJ, was the 36th President of the United States after his service as the 37th Vice President of the United States...

 implemented the HEA as a part of his administration’s agenda to assist and improve higher education in the United States. This was the initial legislation to benefit students of lower and middle-income. The HEA program not only included grants but also low interest loans to students who did not fully qualify to receive grants. Universities and other institutions such as vocational schools benefited as well from the HEA program, receiving federal aid to improve the quality of the education process. "The student aid programs administered by the U.S. Department of Education are contained in Title IV of the HEA, which is why they are referred to as "Title IV Programs."

In 1972, Title IX
Title IX
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 is a United States law, enacted on June 23, 1972, that amended Title IX of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In 2002 it was renamed the Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act, in honor of its principal author Congresswoman Mink, but is most...

 Higher Education Amendments were a response to the distribution of aid in the current grant. Senator Claiborne Pell
Claiborne Pell
Claiborne de Borda Pell was a United States Senator from Rhode Island, serving six terms from 1961 to 1997, and was best known as the sponsor of the Pell Grant, which provides financial aid funding to U.S. college students. A Democrat, he was that state's longest serving senator.-Early years:Pell...

 set forth the initial movements to reform the HEA. Opportunity Grant Program (Basic Grant) were intended to serve as the "floor" or "foundation" of an undergraduate student's financial aid package. Other financial aid, to the extent that it was available, would be added to the Basic Grant up to the limit of a student's financial need. Most changes to the federal student aid program result from a process called "reauthorization". Through the process of reauthorization, Congress examines the status of each program and decides whether to continue that program, and whether a continued program requires changes in structure or purpose. The campus-based programs have been reauthorized every five or six years beginning in 1972".

The Higher Education Amendments of 1972


The Higher Education Amendments of 1972 reauthorized the three campus-based programs and re-named two of them: the National Defense Student Loan Program became the National Direct Student Loan Program; the Economic Opportunity Grant Program, the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant Program (SEOG); and Proprietary (profit-making) schools became eligible to use Title IV Funds; and

The Educational Opportunity Grant Program would no longer function as a stand-alone program of gift aid, but instead would be linked with the Basic Grant Program.

In 1978 the Middle Income Student Assistance Act of 1978 (MISAA) was signed into act by President Jimmy Carter
Jimmy Carter
James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, Jr. is an American politician who served as the 39th President of the United States and was the recipient of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, the only U.S. President to have received the Prize after leaving office...

. This bill provides more generous Basic Educational Opportunity Grant—Pell grants-to low-income students, and makes eligible students from families with income up to about $25,000. An additional 1.5 million students from middle-income families will be eligible for the Basic Grants program.

In 1978, the alterations to the HEA were made to honor Rhode Island Senator Claiborne Pell
Claiborne Pell
Claiborne de Borda Pell was a United States Senator from Rhode Island, serving six terms from 1961 to 1997, and was best known as the sponsor of the Pell Grant, which provides financial aid funding to U.S. college students. A Democrat, he was that state's longest serving senator.-Early years:Pell...

 with his hard work and dedication to improving the higher education of the students in the United States.

Education Amendments of 1978


Middle-income families were now able to borrow $3,000 a year for each dependent child in school regardless of parent income.

Recent legislation



Several changes happened in 2011. More questions skipped on the form, no minimum enrollment hours continued, a higher income allowed, summer Pell Grants calculated for the higher of the two possible award years, the awards themselves at historic highs, and a new regulation that schools must disburse Pell funds by the seventh day of the start of the payment period (school session). The maximum amount Pell Grant award for the 2011-2012 award year is $5,550. Although a shorter application process, the funds for the 2011-2012 Federal Pell Grant Program may cause financial problems for many students. The estimated Recovery Act for 2011-2012 award year is $17,114,000,000. The Pell Grant Program was funded at this amount over the two years of 2008-2010 as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009; however, the additional does not match the needs of the increasing numbers of students enrolling in college and qualifying for aid through the recession. The Pell Grant Program, widely considered to be the backbone of financial aid to the country's most needy students, was subject to a decrease in funding as part of a Continuing Resolution (H.R. 1), which cleared the House in February, 2011 and cut about $60 billion from the federal budget. Congress levied a $5.7 billion cut to the Pell Grant Program, which grants aid to low- and moderate-income students based on a formula that considers annual income and school cost, among other factors. The changes would take effect for the 2011-12 school year, decreasing the maximum amount of aid for the most needy students from $5,550 to $4,705 a year, a difference of $845. In addition, about 1.7 million students who receive smaller Pell Grants would become ineligible for the program. The approval for the cut of Pell Grant funds is not certain due to the long received bipartisan support from the Senate. As of April 6, 2011 funds have not been approved, as the Senate has not voted to pass this legislation.

Application


The application process requires the student and the student’s family complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. The applicant should complete the FAFSA form for the first time prior to starting the freshman undergraduate year, and then update the form each year as he/she progresses through the college undergraduate term. Each year, the applicant is asked to include information about parent or guardian income, financial need and grades, etc. The first step in applying for the Pell Grant is to complete or update the FAFSA form on or after July 1 of each year. The FAFSA application can be completed and submitted at www.fafsa.ed.gov. There are self-explanatory instructions in the "Fill out a FAFSA" section. High school Students can get a FAFSA form from school counselors or fill out the form online. If corrections need to be made to a completed FAFSA form, changes can be made in step 3 of the application in the "Make Corrections to a Processed FAFSA" section. When the student completes or updates the FAFSA application, questions are asked determine eligibility for the Pell Grant, among other government grants and funding. After the initial FAFSA application is submitted, the student will be notified by email or regular postal delivery if and when Pell Grant funding is awarded. Students or parents should always make copies of the confirmation sheet for personal records.

Eligibility


The United States Department of Education has a standard formula that they use to evaluate the information that each person supplies when applying for the Pell Grant. The formula used was created by Congress from criteria submitted through the FAFSA form. This formula produces a number that is called the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) which determines your eligibility.

This grant requires that each applicant is: an undergraduate student who has not yet earned a bachelor’s degree, a United States citizen or an eligible non-citizen, has a high school diploma or a GED or can demonstrate the ability to benefit from the program

Drug conviction


You may not be eligible for federal funding if you have a drug conviction that occurred while you were receiving federal student aid. This will depend heavily on your own personal circumstances, and may be reversed if you undertake the appropriate remediation steps.
You must also sign a statement that will certify that you will only use your aid for education related purposes, and that you are not currently in default for any federal student loans, or that you don’t owe a refund for any federal education grants.

Award amount


As with all grants, there is a maximum amount that the government funds for each applicant. For the 2010-2011 award year, the maximum amount is $5,550. The maximum amount of the grant usually depends on the EFC and several other factors, including cost of attendance (tuition and different fees including room and board, books, and meal plans) and the amount of time the student plans to attend college, whether it is a full academic year and whether one is a full time or part time student. For the 2010-2011 award year, the minimum grant amount is $550 with an average of $3,865 in funds awarded per grant. An applicant cannot receive Pell Grant funds from more than one college at a time. Once one has been considered eligible, the money can be obtained a couple of ways. The student's school can apply Pell Grant funds to school costs, pay the student directly, usually by check, or combine these methods. The school must tell the student in writing how much the award will be and how and when it will be paid. Schools must disburse Pell Grant funds once a semester/term or twice during the academic school year. Under certain circumstances, Pell funds can also be used to fund career pathways
Career Pathways
Career Pathways is a workforce development strategy used in the U.S. to support workers’ transitions from education into and through the workforce. This strategy has been adopted at the federal, state and local levels in order to increase education, training and learning opportunities for...

programs and support services.

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