When you are ready to apply for a Pell Grant there a number of things that you should keep in mind if you want to make the process as smooth as possible. Applying for a Pell Grant is actually a relatively simple process that only involves the filling out of one Pell Grant application. This Pell Grant application is more commonly referred to as the FAFSA, or free application for student aid, and by filling one out you will not only be putting yourself in contention for the Pell Grant, but you’ll also be putting yourself in the running for the variety of federal student aid that is currently available for undergraduate students. The FAFSA can be completed online, or via its written form, and it is highly recommended that you complete an online FAFSA in order to make the process easier and faster.
If you do instead decide to fill out a written FAFSA, you can obtain a copy by calling 1-800-4-fed-aid, by going to the official FAFSA website fafsa.ed.gov, or by going to your financial aid department at your college and grabbing a copy there. The written application has to be sent in to the Department of Education and will therefore take a bit longer to be processed, but if you decide to apply for a Pell Grant by way of the online form, you can expect a processing time of only a few days. When you are ready to fill out your FAFSA online, you can go to the official FAFSA website at fafsa.ed.gov, and the first thing you need to do get the ball rolling is obtain your PIN. The PIN is a number that can allow you to sign your application online, and without it you won’t be able to fill out the online form of the FAFSA.
Getting your PIN is actually very easy to do, and all that is required on your end is a following of the appropriate instructions that are found on the official FAFSA website. Once you have your PIN you can then go ahead and fill out your FAFSA, but before you do it is crucial that you first have an understanding of the kinds of information you should have by your side when completing the application, as not having such information close by will almost guarantee that the process will take much longer that it has to take. The following information and documentation should be at your disposal while filling out your FAFSA:
-A valid social security number
-A valid driver’s license
-All relevant documentation that relate to your federal tax returns from the previous year
-Your parents tax documents if you are still considered a dependent
-Your spouse’s tax document if you are married
-All of your untaxed income statements from the previous year
-All of your bank statements and records
-All of your investment statements and records where applicable
-If you are not a United States citizen: your alien registration card, or permanent resident card
-All of the documentation that relates to your mortgage if you own a home
-If you own a business or farm: all the relevant documentation
You should be able to complete your Pell Grant application online in about an hour or two if you have this information close by. Once you have completed your FAFSA, you can then review the information you submitted in your SAR. The SAR, or Student Aid Report, is an accounting of most of the information you provided during the submission of your FAFSA, and by reviewing your SAR you can ensure that the information that was collected is in fact accurate. You will also be able to know your EFC by looking at your SAR, as well as your eligibility for the Pell Grant. Once you know your Pell Grant eligibility you can then expect to hear a response from your school at some point during the springtime. Your school will have the final decision about how much aid you are able to receive by way of the Pell, and as long as you are eligible you should be able to receive at least some Pell Grant funding.