If your Federal Pell Grant award exceeds the amount you owe the school for tuition and other expenses at the time of disbursement, you will receive a Pell Grant refund. Each school has its own method and schedule for issuing students refunds (disbursement).
What is a Federal Pell Grant Refund?
Most schools don’t give students direct access to their financial aid awards. Instead, they apply the award to tuition and other required costs. When there’s a balance left over, the school issues the student a Pell Grant refund.
How Will I Receive My Refund?
Each school has its own method of financial aid refund disbursement, but there are three primary options:
- Check – Some schools will write a check for the amount of the leftover balance and mail it to the student’s preferred mailing address.
- Direct Deposit – Students may be given the option of having their financial aid refund sent to their bank via direct deposit. You will need to provide your school’s financial aid office with your bank account and routing information so they can make the deposit.
- Student Accounts – The last option many schools provide is to have the leftover balance credited towards the student’s school debit account.
How Do I Know If I Am Eligible for a Refund?
Keep up to date with your account balances at school. Most schools have an online portal that allows students to easily monitor what they owe. If your balance indicates that you are owed a refund, contact your school’s financial aid office to coordinate disbursement.
When Will I Receive My Pell Grant Refund?
There is no one universal “set date” on which Federal Pell Grant refunds are disbursed. The disbursement schedule is up to each school’s financial aid office.
Some schools will disburse the refund before the academic period begins, and others will wait until after the add/drop period has passed.
Check your school’s website for their full financial aid schedule, and if the information remains unclear, don’t hesitate to contact one of the financial aid advisors. That’s what they’re there for!
Buying Textbooks And Other Supplies
Most schools have programs in place to help students who rely on their Pell Grant refund to pay for textbooks and other supplies needed for their courses. Contact your school’s financial aid office before the semester begins to fill out any paperwork that is required to become eligible for their program.
What Should I Do With My Pell Grant Refund?
While your school and the government won’t be monitoring every dollar in your bank account, it’s a good idea to use your Pell Grant refund only for necessities. Anything that allows you to attend school should be considered a necessity, including transportation and common personal expenses.
Frivolous expenses, such as trips and parties, should be considered outside the intention of the Pell Grant. Even if you have excess funds now, you may find that you need the money later, so spend your Pell Grant refund wisely.
Applying for a Federal Pell Grant
In order to receive a Federal Pell Grant, you must file your FAFSA® for federal financial aid. The Pell Grant is a need-based award for those who demonstrate significant financial need through their FAFSA®.
Only undergraduate students at accredited schools are eligible for the Pell Grant. The maximum award for the 2020-2021 school year is $6,195.