The maximum for the 2012-2013 awards remains at $5550. There are continual negotiations so check back frequently for news of changes.
Probably the best known federal aid for students is the need-based Pell Grant, named for Senator Claiborne Pell. These awards go to low-income college students whose family income falls beneath a specific level. The maximum amount of the award changes each year, and for 2012-2013 it remains at $5500. The minimum grant awarded will have a higher threshold and some awardees are in danger of losing their Pell Grant.
This is a “free” source of financial aid — it is not a loan, and it never has to be paid back.
The Consolidated Appropriations Act set a new limit to the number of Pell Grants a student may receive. That limit is now 12 full time semesters or the equivalent. The minimum award eligibility has also changed. As a result there will be fewer small grants awarded. Those students whose “EFC”, or Expected Family Contribution, is calculated by the grant processor as falling between 4996 and 5273 will no longer receive a Pell Grant.
To be eligible for a Pell Grant you must be a U.S. citizen and an undergraduate student. Pell Grants are not available to graduate students (i.e., you cannot already have a college degree). The grants are awarded once a year and the amount awarded to any particular student is based on several things, including:
Be sure to fill out and submit your FAFSA according to the deadlines set by your school or your state — NOT according to the federal deadline. The federal deadline is often much later than schools and states, so don’t miss out here by following only the federal guidelines! After you submit the form the government will let you know if you have qualified for a Pell Grant.