Pell Grants - Another Reason to Complete The FAFSA Now

Faulty FAFSA Assumptions Could Cost You Money


While most parents of high school seniors are busily scrambling about to finish filing the FAFSA, a few are doing nothing because they have made some dangerous assumptions about their eligibility for college financial aid. They think that they earn too much money to qualify for any type of assistance, so it doesn’t seem like it is worth the effort and time. But this faulty line of reasoning could be costing them money, particularly when it comes to Federal Pell Grants.

Even though you have a higher income, you may be pleasantly surprised to find out that you are indeed eligible for financial assistance in the form of a Pell Grant. According to research cited by, the vast majority of Pell Grant recipients for the 2007-08 school year did have an adjusted gross income of less than $50,000. But 3.5% of families with incomes between $50,000 and $75,000 also managed to qualify, while a few with even higher incomes received some money. If you have more than one child in college, it is especially worthwhile to apply for financial aid because your chances of qualifying for a Pell Grant will increase.

If you are eligible for a Pell Grant, you could receive up to $5775 for the 2015–16 award year based on the cost of attendance, financial need, part-time or full-time student status, and whether you plan to attend for a full academic year. It’s important to note that you may qualify for help at a school with higher tuition, and not be eligible at a school with lower costs.

The Pell Grant amount may change from year to year. Here are a few more thoughts to keep in mind when deciding whether or not to fill out the FAFSA:

  • It’s Not Too Late for the Pell: Even though some financial aid is awarded on a first come, first served basis, the Department of Education provides enough funds to each school to cover the Pell Grants for all of their eligible students. Regardless of any other type of student aid received, your student will receive the full amount of Pell Grants you qualify for by completing the FAFSA.
  • You May Qualify for Other Types of Financial Aid: There is more to financial aid than just Pell Grants. States and educational institutions each award various types of financial aid, but the FAFSA is usually the first step in the qualification process for all of this assistance.
  • It Could Affect Your Student Loans: While it may be possible that you still do not qualify for a Pell Grant, completing the FAFSA is still necessary to determine your eligibility for federal student loans. These loans are available without regard to financial need, and often have more favorable interest rates and repayment terms than private student loans.
  • Fill Out the FAFSA Every Year: It is still a good idea to complete the FAFSA every year your child is in college, even if you did not qualify for federal financial aid last year, especially if another child starts attending college. Your financial situation may have changed or the eligibility rules could have been altered, but you won’t know the results for certain unless you apply.

Never assume that you are not eligible for any type of financial aid. The Pell Grant and other forms of assistance take many factors into consideration. The only way you will find out is to complete the FAFSA now, so try it and you may be pleasantly surprised.