Across the United States, the cost of college has risen exponentially over the past 20 years. Both private and public universities now charge large amounts for tuition, room and board, and other fees, leaving many students looking for increasing amounts of financial aid so they can afford to go to school.

For low-income students, there are a number of options for aid to help them attend college. These include scholarships and need-based financial aid, such as the federal Pell Grant. The Pell Grant is available for students based on financial need, and it can only be used for certain expenses. Read on to learn more about this grant and the limitations on how it can be used.

What is a Pell Grant?

A Pell Grant is for undergraduate college students who have demonstrated financial need. It is offered by the federal government and does not need to be paid back, except under certain circumstances. A Pell Grant is typically awarded only to undergraduate students who have not yet been awarded a bachelor’s or professional degree.

Students can apply for Pell Grants by filling out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA). This form must be filled out each year you are in school in order to continue to be eligible for financial aid. Students must be enrolled in an undergraduate course of study at a non-foreign school to receive this grant. 

The amount of a Pell Grant changes from year to year. For 2018-2019, the maximum grant amount will be $6,095. The total amount awarded depends on a student’s financial need, cost of attendance, status as a full-time or part-time student, and plans to attend school for a full academic year or less. In some situations, students may be able to receive up to 150 percent of their Pell Grant award in a year. Students are eligible to receive a Pell Grant for 12 semesters.

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What Can Pell Grant Money Be Used For?

A Pell Grant can be used for a number of costs and expenses associated with obtaining a college degree. This includes tuition and fees that are normally assessed by a college or university.

It can also be used to cover other ordinary expenses associated with going to college, such as books, supplies, transportation, and other personal expenses. For example, if you need to buy books for your courses, along with pens and paper to take notes, those could be paid for with Pell Grant funds. Similarly, if you need to buy a plane ticket to get to and from college, you could use money from your Pell Grant.

Other qualified expenses that are covered include living expenses, such as room and board charged by a university, or rent and utilities paid for off-campus housing. If you have dependents, then a Pell Grant can be used to pay for child care expenses while you are at class.

A Pell Grant is a great opportunity for low-income students to obtain funding for college. The flexibility for the use of Pell Grant money is a great benefit to those who receive it.