Pell Grants are offered by the federal government to help students pay for college. In order to qualify for a Pell Grant, a student needs to meet income eligibility requirements as well as show continued progress toward receiving a degree. The Pell Grant can be used for school-related expenses. The maximum Pell Grant for the 2010-11 award year is $5,550.
Pell Grant Uses
There are specific uses for Pell Grant funds, set forth by the federal government. The Pell Grant can be used to pay for tuition and fees for school or a vocational program. It can also be used to pay for textbooks, as well as a personal computer to help the student while in school. Additionally the Pell Grant may be applied to living expenses, while the student is attending school.
Receiving a Pell Grant
Your school will disburse the Pell Grant to you. Some schools will take out the cost of tuition and fees before giving you the remainder of the Pell Grant for the semester. They may do this by issuing a check or through direct deposit.
Federal student loans are disbursed at the same time, if you are receiving the loans, as well. Once you receive the remainder of the money you can spend it on any approved expenses. Most funds are disbursed the first day of school, but some schools may wait until the add/drop day. Other schools may pay a portion out each month.
Purchasing Books with Pell Grants
To purchase textbooks with your Pell Grant, you will need to wait until you receive the remainder of your Pell Grant from the school. You can purchase textbooks from your college bookstore, though you may save money by purchasing books from a different provider, such as Amazon or Campus Books. If you cannot purchase the books until you receive your grant, you may not have your books the first week of college. If you need a book immediately, you may want to purchase it through the campus bookstore.
Planning How to Use Your Pell Grant
Before the semester begins you should determine how you want to use your Pell Grant money. Although you can fund your education through a combination of scholarships, grants and loans, you may want to limit what you borrow as much as possible. Your Pell Grant should go toward tuition and fees first, and if that is more than the Pell Grant you receive, then you will need to find another way to pay for your books.