The crucial thing that you must understand If you have been wondering about how to apply for a Pell Grant award is that you must fill out a FAFSA to make yourself eligible to receive the grant. The FAFSA, or free application for student aid, is the only application you need to fill out, and by doing so correctly you should automatically be putting yourself into contention for Pell Grant funding.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be able to qualify for grant, it simply means that your application will be given a status of eligible, or ineligible via an automated process. If your FAFSA application is determined to be eligible for the grant, it will then be evaluated by the school you are attending and a specific award amount will be assigned to your file.
Before any of this happens you must actually apply for federal student aid by way of the FAFSA, and to do so properly it is important that you first understand a few things about the FAFSA.
First off, you can fill out a written form of the FAFSA, or you can choose to fill one out the online version. If you choose to fill out the written form, you can obtain a copy of the application at your school’s financial aid office, via phone by calling this number 1-800-4-fed-aid, or request a copy be sent to you at the official FAFSA website, studentaid.ed.gov/sa/fafsa.
It is highly recommended that you avoid filling out the written application, and instead opt for the online application. This makes the entire process much faster, and it will save you the hassle of having to mail your application the old-fashioned way.
When you are ready to fill out your FAFSA online, you must first obtain a PIN. A PIN is essentially just a number that allows you to sign your application electronically, and you can get your PIN by going onto the official FAFSA website, studentaid.ed.gov/sa/fafsa Once you have taken the appropriate steps to get your PIN, you can then go ahead and fill out your FAFSA application online.
Before you dive in and start this process it is crucial that you first get a grip on the various kinds of information you will need by your side while filling out this application online. Filling out your FAFSA application without this information close by is frankly foolhardy, as it is going to be a waste of time doing so unless you have a superior memory. The following are the most critical documents and information that you must either have close by, or have memorized before you go ahead and fill out your FAFSA online:
- W-2 forms, along with any federal tax returns from the previous year
- Your driver’s license
- Your social security number
- Your current untaxed income statements from the previous year
- If you are considered a dependent, your parents tax documents
- If you are married, your spouse’s tax documents
- Your bank statements
- All of your investment records and other related statements
- If not a United States citizen: your alien registration card, or permanent resident card
- All of the information in regard to your mortgage
- If you own a business or a farm, the appropriate records that catalogue such activity
Once you have this information by your side you can then go ahead and fill out your FAFSA online. This should take you about an hour, and it will take much less time if you have already filled one out before due to the fact that you will only have to update the information that is already found within your file. Once you have completed your FAFSA, a Student Aid Report, or SAR will be generated for your viewing.
The SAR should contain all of the vital information you provided during the filling out of your FAFSA, and it is important that you check it over to make sure that it is accurate. It should also state explicitly eligibility status is for the Pell Grant as well as other forms of Federal Aid, and what your EFC is.
Remember that earliest that you should go ahead and submit a FAFSA is January first for the upcoming fall semester, and the absolute final deadline for the reception of any type of FAFSA is June 30. It is recommended that you complete your application by early March, as most schools begin sending out award letters a little after this time during the spring. That is pretty-much it when it comes to filling out the FAFSA, and just make sure that you take your time so that you don’t provide any information that isn’t completely accurate.