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Pell Grant

Difference Between Scholarships, Grants and Loans

There are three main types of financial aid for college students: scholarships, grants and loans. Scholarships and grants are forms of gift aid, which means you don’t have to pay them back. Loans are a form of self-help aid, which means you will have to pay them back with interest.

Scholarships are usually awarded based on merit, while grants are usually awarded based on need. Loans are available to both undergraduate and graduate students, and can be used for tuition, books, living expenses and more.

The biggest difference between scholarships, grants and loans is that scholarships and grants don’t have to be paid back, while loans do. So, if you’re looking for free money for college, scholarships and grants are the way to go.

What are the Types of Federal Grants?

The three most popular federal education grants are:

  • Pell Grants – These are need-based grants for undergraduate and certain postgraduate students. The maximum award for the 2023-2024 academic year is $7,395.
  • Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG) – Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG): These are also need-based grants, but they’re awarded to undergraduates with the lowest expected family contributions.
  • TEACH Grants – This program provides grants of up to $4,000 per year to students who plan on becoming teachers in high-need subject areas. In exchange for the grant money, recipients must agree to teach for four years at an elementary or secondary school that serves low-income students.

What is the Pell Grant?

The Pell Grant is a federal grant that is awarded to eligible students who need financial assistance to pay for college. The grant is named after Democratic U.S. Senator Claiborne Pell of Rhode Island, who was the main sponsor of the bill that created the program in 1972. Eligible students that qualify could receive up to $7,395 per year to help with the college tuition.

Pell Grants are typically awarded to undergraduate students who have not yet earned their first bachelor's degree. However, some graduate and professional students may also be eligible for Pell Grants if they meet certain criteria. For example, graduate students who are enrolled in teacher certification programs may be eligible for Pell Grants.

To be eligible for a Pell Grant, students must demonstrate financial need based on the information they provide on their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Who is Eligible for the Pell Grant

The Pell Grant is an award given to students who demonstrate an exceptional need for financial aid. Typically, students who receive Pell Grants have an income below the federal poverty level. There are some exceptions, however. For example, students who are incarcerated or have more than one school at a time are not eligible.

The Pell Grant is a federal grant, and it is nonrepayable. It is usually awarded to undergraduate students who are not pursuing a professional degree. However, students pursuing post-baccalaureate teacher certificate programs may also qualify. In addition to helping students pay for college, Pell Grants also help determine the recipient's eligibility for other federal grant programs.

The Pell Grant funds are not sent directly to the student. In general, the school decides how to pay the Pell Grant funds and provides a check to the student. The money may be used for supplies and other expenses. Unlike a student loan, Pell Grants are not required to be repaid. However, eligibility is based on need and enrollment status.

How to Apply for the Pell Grant?

There are a few things that you need to do in order to apply for the Pell Grant. The first step is to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA.

In the School Selection section, add every school you're considering, even if you haven't sent your application or received an acceptance letter. It doesn't hurt your application to add more schools. School officials can't see the other schools (8 Steps to Completing the 2023-24 FAFSA® Form).

If you need help finding a school, we can help! Just click “Get Started” below, get matched to schools, then head over to to complete your FASA form.

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The FASA form can be found online at You will need to provide information about yourself and your family's finances, as well as your school's cost of attendance.

Pell Grant funding is available to full-time and part-time students. However, your enrollment status must be verified before the funding can be distributed. The financial aid office may be a foreign language. They will use the information from your FAFSA to determine how much financial aid you are eligible for, including the Pell Grant. If you are eligible for the Pell Grant, it will be listed on your award letter from the school.

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