If you are or are planning on becoming a student attending a post-secondary undergraduate program at any school in the United States, it is important that you know how to apply for a Pell Grant. The Pell Grant is the largest federally funded student aid program in the United States and has been helping to offset the educational expenses of lower-income families for decades to allow more students to attend college by decreasing the financial burden that seems to get higher and higher ever year.

The first thing you need to know about how to apply for a Pell Grant is the word “FAFSA.” FAFSA stands for “Free Application for Federal Student Aid.” This is the universal application for the Pell Grant and other scholarship and aid opportunities that you might be eligible for. It is required to be completed each year so as to update the application with the most current financial information to determine a student’s eligibility. You can find the application online or at the student aid office at your school. Regardless of which school you plan on attending, the FAFSA application is the same.

Before you even start with the application though, another thing you need to know about how you can apply for a Pell Grant is that before you can even start the FAFSA, you will first have to create an FSA ID. This ID becomes your electronic signature and is used each time you will access the application. In order to obtain an FSA ID you will need certain identifying documents such as your social security number as well as your date of birth and name as it officially appears on your official documents. It can take several days to get the ID number, so it is also important that you budget in enough time to obtain this before filling out the application.

The next thing you need to know about how to apply for a Pell Grant is that almost everyone that applies will qualify for some form of aid, whether it is partial or full. So, it is very important to make sure that you apply for it each year. The application does require financial information to be provided from the entire household and not just the student. This means that they will be asking questions about the income and assets of all members of your immediate household. It is about 100 questions in its entirety and on average takes between 45 minute and one hour to complete a new application for the first time. This time decreases as you fill out renewals and complete the application for subsequent years.

Once you have your FSA ID and complete your FAFSA application, you will hear back regarding your eligibility for the different federal programs that are available to you to help offset the costs of your education. If you are in need of further assistance to determine how to apply for a Pell Grant, there are people who are able to assist you in the student aid office at your school who specialize in ensuring that students are able to access the means necessary to afford to meet their educational goals.