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Where's the Money? Paying for School: Pell Grants

Who is Eligible?

Federal Pell Grants usually are awarded only to undergraduate students who display exceptional financial need*  and have not earned a bachelor's, graduate, or professional degree. (In some cases, however, a student enrolled in a post baccalaureate teacher certification program  might receive a Federal Pell Grant). 

Note: You are not eligible to receive a Federal Pell Grant if you are incarcerated in a federal or state penal institution or are subject to an involuntary civil commitment upon completion of a period of incarceration for a forcible or nonforcible sexual offense.

A Federal Pell Grant, unlike a loan, does not have to be repaid, except under certain circumstances.

Financial need is defined as "the difference between the cost of attendance (COA) at a school and your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). While COA varies from school to school, your EFC does not change based on the school you attend." (From: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/types/grants-scholarships/pell)

How Much Money Will I Receive?

Amounts can change yearly. The maximum Federal Pell Grant award is $6,495 for the 2021-22 award year (July 1, 2021, to June 30, 2022).

The amount you get, though, will depend on

  • your Expected Family Contribution,
  • the cost of attendance (determined by your school for your specific program),
  • your status as a full-time or part-time student, and
  • your plans to attend school for a full academic year or less. 

View the tables, based on the factors above, that are used to determine Pell Grant award amounts.

When & How Will I Receive My Pell Grant Monies?

If you’re eligible for a Federal Pell Grant,

you’ll receive the full amount you qualify for—each school participating in the program receives enough funds each year from the U.S. Department of Education to pay the Federal Pell Grant amounts for all its eligible students. The amount of any other student aid for which you might qualify does not affect the amount of your Federal Pell Grant. 

When will I receive my grant?

Generally, your grant or loan will cover a full academic year and your school will disburse (pay out) your money in at least two payments called disbursements. In most cases, your school must pay you at least once per term (semester, trimester, or quarter). Schools that don’t use traditional terms such as semesters or quarters usually must pay you at least twice per academic year—for instance, at the beginning and midpoint of your academic year.  

  • If you’re a first-year undergraduate student and a first-time borrower, you may have to wait 30 days after the first day of your enrollment period (semester, trimester, etc.) for your first disbursement.  Check with Financial Aid to see whether this rule applies. 
  • If you’re a first-time borrower of a Direct Subsidized Loan or a Direct Unsubsidized Loan, you must complete entrance counseling before you receive your first loan disbursement. 

If you’re going to have a work-study job, you’ll be paid at least once a month.

How Will I Get My Grant Money?

Mendocino College—not the U.S. Department of Education—will distribute your financial aid.

Typically, the college first applies your grant or loan money toward your tuition and fees.  Any money left over is paid to you for other expenses. You might be able to choose whether the leftover money comes to you by check, cash, a credit to your bank account, or another method.

What's a Year Round Pell Grant?

For example, if you are eligible for a $2,000 Pell Grant for the award year, and are enrolled full-time for both the fall and spring semesters, you’ll likely receive $1,000 in the fall and $1,000 in the spring. However, under certain circumstances, you may be eligible to receive an additional $1,000 in the summer semester (resulting in your receiving 150% of your original award). You might hear this situation being referred to as “year-round Pell.” For details, contact Mendocino College's Financial Aid Office

Ukiah Campus: 707.468.3053 | Coast Center: 707.961.2200 | Lake Center: 707.263.4944 | North County Center: 707.459.6224
Email: Library Webmaster | Mendocino Community College

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