Beacon College

Pell Grants – a Gift From Uncle Sam

By Emerson Sandow

Since the early 1980s, the Pell Grant Program has provided much-needed relief to students from a variety of secondary educational backgrounds, including those attending vocational schools in such programs as two-year nursing certification, court-reporting, paralegal, and legal secretarial, as well as the standard two- and four-year college paths.

The Pell Grant is based on financial need, which makes it a very utilitarian grant, with a large number of applicants able to qualify. A Pell Grant is not a student loan – it is a “gift” that is not repaid. For qualifying students in the 2010-2011 academic year, the Pell Grant amount is $5,550 per year, an increase over previous years.

In order to find out if you qualify for a Pell, you must begin by meeting these requirements:

  • If you are in college, you must be seeking your first undergraduate degree (or vocational certificate)
  • Meet the financial eligibility requirements
  • Attend a college or vocational school that accepts Pell Grants
  • Complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aide (FAFSA)

There are plans to increase to Pell Grant annual maximum amounts to over $6,000 by 2016, so its future seems quite secure. Visit the government website for complete information and downloadable worksheets & applications.