Around 5.4 million college students in the US finance their educational expenses through the federally sponsored Pell grant each year. The Pell grant is awarded as a gift aid to qualifying applicants, and unlike other forms of financial aid, these do not have to be repaid.

Those who qualify can receive up to a maximum amount of $5,500 under this form of financial aid. The Pell grants are only offered to applicants who demonstrate an exceptional financial need. Typically, the applicants are required to submit the FASFA which is used by the United States Department of Education to determine their eligibility. The award amount is essentially determined by the applicants’ overall financial status, their cost of attendance, and enrollment status.

Students can use the award amount to finance their education related expenses including tuition costs, living expenses and books. The Pell grant award amount is disbursed through a college’s financial aid office to the students’ account directly or via check. Students are advised to re-apply for Pell grants each year, however, the Pell grant amount awarded annually may vary depending on the applicant’s assets or family income. Also, prior to applying, students must bear in mind that they may only qualify if they are enrolled in a recognized post-secondary educational program.