One major concern for students who want to pursue higher education is how to pay for it1. A Federal Pell Grant – special fund for low-income students to attend college – offers one way for single mothers to finance their postsecondary education. This federally-provided money does not need to be repaid, making it a more attractive option than a loan.
While Pell Grant is available for students from all different races, genders, backgrounds, and demographics, single mothers who want to go back to school may become eligible for financial assistance via a Pell Grant to get a degree and re-enter the workforce.
The federal government recently committed close to 40 billion dollars in federal grants for education. In 2011, the U.S handed out 34.8 billion in Pell Grants.2
The amount of money a single mom can receive through a Pell Grant is determined by her Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Net assets, family income3, and Cost of School Attendance (CoA) all play a contributing role. Course duration and status as a full or part time student also determine the grant amount which is capped at $55504.
How to Apply for Pell Grant?
To apply for a Pell Grant, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) online at www.fafsa.ed.gov or in paper form.
The FAFSA must be submitted by June 30, although it is highly recommended to submit your application as early as possible after January 1, as most federal student aid is given out on a first-come, first-serve basis.
There are currently 5,400 colleges, universities, and institutes participating in this grant program for undergraduate study or a post-baccalaureate teacher certification program.
Just like everyone else, you must show financial need in order to be deemed eligible for this money. You will learn your application status when you receive your Student Aid Report (SAR) which will tell you how much aid, if any, you can expect, and whether you are eligible for a Pell Grant. In some cases, the higher education institution will notify you directly via a form called the Institutional Student Information Record (ISIR).
If your grant application is successful, the school will credit the half of the grant disbursement to your student account on your first day of classes. The remainder, if any, can be paid directly to your bank account or a check be issued to you.
Financial help granted by this program has enabled many single mother to continue their college education. But don’t be quick to assume that you won’t qualify; it’s in your best interest to take your chance and apply for it. You might be surprised by the amount of student aid for which you qualify.
To learn more about the eligibility requirements for a federal Pell Grant, you should contact the financial aid office of the higher education institution in your state or visit the FAFSA official website and familiarize yourself with important deadlines and required documentation.
- The average cost of a private, four-year college is well over $20,000 per academic year. [↩]
- Source: Trends in Student Aid 2011 by College Board [↩]
- Students with a total family income up to $50,000 may be eligible for Pell Grants, though most Pell funding goes to students with a total family income below $20,000. [↩]
- The maximum amount for the year is $5,550 and the lowest amount is $500, which can help you pay for tuition. [↩]