The Pell grant application is actually quite simple and straightforward, but there are some things you can do before you start the application that can make it a lot easier to complete.
For most young college students, the information required to determine your eligibility for Pell grants will come from your parents or guardians. So, you should have them complete the application for you or at least with you.
In order to apply for all kinds of student aid, including Pell grants and Federal student aid, you have to start by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You can file a paper application which you can get from your school; however, the quickest way to file the FAFSA is online. The online application is immediately sent to the student aid commission and the results are sent electronically to your school. This makes the application process much faster than it was in years past when you could only file a paper application.
Filing the Pell grant application online ensures that your application is not lost. In addition, because grant money is distributed to those in need based on their application date, filing early and online can increase your chances of getting funded. Once you have filed, the next step in the application process is to await your report from the student aid commission. This report contains your expected family contribution (EFC) and details what aid you may be eligible for. However, it is not a financial aid award. The actual awarding of aid comes from your college or university.
The grant applications from many students are then sent in batches to your college or university. Your school then asks for supporting information such as copies of your identification and tax returns. This information helps your school prove that the information on your application is accurate and that you are indeed eligible for Pell grant. The application process ends with the school verifying your information and awarding financial aid.
Keep in mind that the Pell grant application can take many months to process from the time you submit it, until the time you receive funds from your college or university. There are also different rules at different schools for how the money is distributed, so check with your financial aid office. Most schools apply the grant money to your student account to cover tuition and then distribute any remaining money to students at a later date.