February 4, 2010 | Adam Sorensen | Leave a comment Pell Grants are great for potential students that are worried about funding their education.Â Federal Pell Grants are essentially free money, because they do not have to be repaid.Â These grants are selective and come in different amounts depending on the applicant’s circumstances. Pell Grants were created to provide additional money to low-income undergraduate students and certain post-baccalaureate students. There are 5,400 higher education facilities where students may use their reward, and the process takes little effort and may be worth it. In order to start the process, students need to gather financial information. Dependent students, which include students less than 24-years-old, that are not married, and don’t have someone to support need to gather not only their information but also their parents. Independents need to gather paperwork for both themselves and their spouse, or children. The forms are the same for both independents and dependents; it just depends on who the student has to gather them from.Â They include tax forms, W2s, bank statements, driver’s license numbers, and a social security card. The grant’s amount does not depend on a student’s status as a dependent or independent, but it does depend on a few factors.Â The first of which is the student’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC).Â Second, is the amount that it will cost in order to attend the school.Â Next, is the student’s enrollment status, which is essentially whether the student is attending school full-time or part-time.Â Lastly, the amount depends on whether the student is planning on attending for a full academic year or less. The amount of the grant can affect how much money the student is going to have to pay out of pocket, or finance through another means. Despite the fact everyone should apply for this free money, there are some qualifying factors that individuals might want to know about. Students must be enrolled in an undergraduate or eligible post-baccalaureate teaching credential program.Â Students are not allowed to receive a grant if they are incarcerated in a federal or state penal institution.Â If these two criteria are met, then move on to the next phase, which deals with financial need. Financial need is determined by the (EFC).Â The lower the EFC, the greater the student’s financial need.Â So, students with a low EFC score of 0, a high cost of tuition, and plan on attending full time for an entire academic year, will receive the maximum Pell Grant award of $5,350. As school becomes more expensive, the grant amounts also rise so in the 2010-2011 school year, the amount will rise to $5,500. Now if a student has a higher EFC score, only plans on attending part time and only for one semester, then the amounts change.Â They will get less money than the student in the previous situation.Â The grant amounts for students who qualify will not be below $500. Plus there is more good news: the stimulus has allocated that the Pell Grant amounts be raised in order to keep up with rising tuition costs. Students interested in attending school and applying for a Pell Grant need to fill out a Federal Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).Â Students can get more information about education and these forms by visiting ClassesandCareers.com. Just remember students that want to apply need to do it early, because the deadline is spring and the funding is distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis.