Pell Grants are federal grants awarded to students who demonstrate financial need and the student start point to apply for a Pell Grant is by completing the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Pell Grants are designed to help with tuition and related expenses, which can include housing, textbooks and other supplies. You will not receive a refund specifically for your books, but you will receive any money left over after all tuition and required fees have been paid to the school.

These specific grants are designed to be awarded to low-income students. There are no restrictions for how you use the Pell Grant. The amount of your grant is based on your financial need and the cost of tuition. As example, for the 2013-2014 school year, the maximum Pell Grant award was $5,635 for full-time enrollment. The amount is divided between the fall and spring semesters. Funding for Pell Grants is not limited to a certain number of recipients. If you are eligible for the grant, you will receive it, regardless of how many others also qualify.

Pell Grants are generally not paid until after the school semester begins. Depending on the school, students may not receive funds until several weeks after classes start. If you need money for books, contact the school to inquire about receiving a book advance or book voucher. If you are approved for financial aid, the school may allow you to borrow from your anticipated financial aid award. Your school will likely have specific guidelines and requirements for requesting an advance. It is very important to inquire as early as possible to avoid missing deadlines.

After your tuition and fees are deducted from your financial aid, you will receive a refund for the excess grant and loan funds from the Busar Office of your college or university. Refunds are generally mailed in the form of a check or direct deposited into your bank account. To ensure students receive the correct amount of aid for the number of credit hours they are taking, the school may not disburse awards until you can no longer add or drop courses for the semester. Some schools may hold financial aid refunds for longer periods of time.

It is important to keep in touch with your school’s financial office. They can answer you all you questions and inform you about your disbursement. If you paid tuition before your financial aid was processed for the semester, you will be reimbursed your up-front expenses. Your award will still be calculated based on your financial need and cost of attendance for your school. However, instead of deducting the tuition and fees from your awards, you will receive a reimbursement.

If you need your books and cannot access your Pell Grant early, consider renting it. You can contact your school bookstore or online marketplace to inquire about textbook rental programs. You will have to return the books at the end of the semester, but you will save money up-front. For last, we would like to reminder you that undocumented immigrants are ineligible for federal funds, but you can still get aid from your university. Some states allow undocumented immigrants to obtain in-state tuition, and undocumented students are eligible for some private scholarships as well.

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