What is a Pell Grant? How can you tell if you received one?

The White House announcement on student loans on Wednesday included an unexpected boost for Pell Grant recipients: If their income is less than $125,000 (or $250,000 for a married couple), they are eligible for double the loan forgiveness other borrowers with similar incomes.

While the relief isn’t big enough to pay off the debt of the average student loan borrower, the $20,000 for Pell Grant recipients is certainly a bigger help than the $10,000 for other qualifying borrowers.

The Federal Student Aid website was quickly inundated with borrowers checking their accounts. Many of them focused on a single question: “Did I get a Pell grant?”

It’s not surprising that many people can’t remember all the help they received to pay for college: Student aid is the financial equivalent of going to Grand Central Market in LA at lunchtime, a jumble of options, compromises, and uncertain consequences. There are a number of scholarships, grants, and public and private loans available to top up what students and parents can afford.

But answering the Pell Grant question is relatively easy.

How to find out if you’ve received a Pell Grant

No need to dig through boxes of old records—just log into your account on the Federal Student Aid website. (If you don’t have an account, you can create one from the Create an Account page on the site. You’ll need your social security number and contact information.) There you’ll find a chart detailing all the forms of help you can get.

Whether you’re curious about your history with Pell Grants, it’s a good idea to sign up (or create an account) just to make sure the education department has your current contact information and that your payment records are accurate.

But good luck today! The site continues to be inundated with visitors checking their accounts.

What is a Pell Grant anyway?

Pell Grants are a form of federal grant for low-income students that do not have to be repaid, providing a direct discount on college costs. The money is given by the schools to students who have not yet earned a bachelor’s or higher degree and whose families cannot afford the costs of their studies without the help.

Unlike many forms of aid, there is no specific income limit or other financial factors that determine whether you receive a Pell grant. Instead, the college reviews your free student aid application, which provides a detailed picture of your family’s income, assets, and liabilities to assess your expected family contribution — that is, how much you and your parents (or just you, if you independent) can afford protection through savings or loans. It compares that number to the cost of attending, which includes tuition, fees, housing, food, and books. If your family contribution cannot cover the cost of attending, you are eligible for a Pell Scholarship.

Some special circumstances may also qualify you for Pell Grants—for example, if a parent or guardian died while on active duty as a public safety officer or while serving in the military in Iraq or Afghanistan after 9/11.

Pell Grants are staggered based on need and total $6,895 for the 2022-23 school year. According to the Education Data Initiative, just over a third of students received Pell Grants, with half of the money going to students whose families made less than $20,000. The average grant amount was $4,491, according to EDI.

According to the Biden administration, an estimated 60% of Americans with student loan debt received Pell Grants. That means more than half of borrowers eligible for the loan forgiveness announced Wednesday are likely eligible for $20,000 of relief, not $10,000.

Incidentally, the name comes from Senator Claiborne Pell of Rhode Island, who campaigned for the program.

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https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2022-08-25/what-is-a-pell-grant-how-to-tell-if-you-received-one What is a Pell Grant? How can you tell if you received one?

Alley Einstein

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