Firstly, it is essential to know that the that Federal Pell Grant does not function as a loan; a student does not have to repay it (unless under these circumstances).
Furthermore, students convicted of crimes incarcerated students, and those who are on parole have very limited eligibility.
As said previously, those in dire financial situations (and those they still didn't earn they first bachelor's degree) are the most common group of students that receive the governmental support.
The application process is relatively simple: a student has to fill out the Free Application For Federal Student Aid form(you can do it here). The form requires you to write down information, such as your demographics and financial situation. After this process is completed, a student will go through the Student Aid Report.
The report will explain different programs and conditions you the students needs to meet to apply for that specific program (it will require some data, such as your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Read the form very carefully, since small errors can prevent yours from receiving financial aid. If interested, you can see how the support is calculated.
Level of Financial Aid
Since this is a governmental aid, it is subject to change. A student can receive more or less money each year. The amount of money the level of financial aid depends on several factors, these being the most important ones:
• your current financial situation (this depends on several factors, all of which are explained in the application form and the Student Aid Report)
• the cost of attending college (such as travel expenses, accommodation expenses, etc.)
• the level of aid also depends on whether you are a full time or part-time student
• it also depends on your academic plans (is it full academic years, and if less, how much less)
There is also the phenomenon of "year-round Pell." In this case, a student receives more financial aid than the Pell Grant award initially granted. For instance, a student might win a $1000. A student will receive $500 during winter and $500 during the spring semester. However, in some situations, a student might also receive additional $500 during his summer semester. To see if you are eligible, contact your financial aid officer.
Students whose parents died in the Afghanistan and Iraq War (post 9/11) may receive additional financial support. However, you had to be 24 years old (or younger) or enrolled in a college or career school at the moment of their death (either your parent's or guardian's).
In this case, you are eligible for additional financial aid. Furthermore, if you aren't eligible for Federal Pell Grant, you might qualify for Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant.
Since you receive the aid through the college you attend, the college uses the money to pay for your scholarship, tuition, room, and board, etc. You may ask your college to pay you directly (cash, credit card) or combine these two methods.
Maintaining the Grant
The first condition is that you continue with your undergraduate in the American college; if you move abroad, you won't receive Federal Pell Grant.
Furthermore, you will have to fill out the FAFSA form each year. It is just a way of ensuring that the money goes into the hands of those who need it, since student's financial situation may improve over the year.
As soon as you finish your undergraduate process, or if you obtain your first professional degree, you will no longer be qualified for the Federal Pell Grant. Additionally, you can receive the grant for 12 semesters (approximately six years), during which you are expected to obtain your bachelor degree. Once those 12 semesters pass, you will no longer be able to receive the Federal Pell Grant support.