MONEYSCHOOL'S Simplified Guide
to FAFSA and Federal Student Aid

Section 4: Pell Grants

Obviously, grants are the most desirable form of financial aid, because grant money does not have to be repaid.  Grants are offered only to students with the greatest financial need, meaning the lowest EFC.  Grant amounts are limited and students who receive grants may also need loans to help cover the cost of attendance at a particular school. 

The Pell grant is the most common type of federal grant.  Students who receive Pell grants may receive additional money from other grant programs based on exceptional financial need or other qualifications.  They may also be offered student loans to cover the portion of their educational expenses not covered by grants.  The maximum size of a Pell Grant changes yearly.  For the 2009-10 academic year, the maximum amount is $5,350.  For 2010-11 it will increase to $5,550.

There are other specialized federal grant programs available, but in the interest of brevity, we won’t discuss them here.  Once you submit a FAFSA, Federal Student Aid will inform you which types of aid you are eligible to receive.  For more detail on federal grant programs, you can access the 2009 FSA fact sheet here.