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"FAFSA®" and "Pell" are two words students and parents hear about college but might not always know what's being talked about. Let's clarify the basics of the FAFSA® and the Pell Grant program.

First, the FAFSA®

The FAFSA® stands for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and refers to the form students use to apply for financial aid (grants and loans, etc.) from the federal government. Many states and aid providers also use a student's FAFSA® as the basis of determining eligibility for their financial aid programs. (The FAFSA® is accessible on the U.S. Department of Education website fafsa.gov.)

Second, the Pell Grant

The federal Pell Grant is the country's biggest grant program, providing billions of dollars to college students each year based on their level of financial need. The maximum Pell Grant amount is $6,095 and is provided to those with the greatest amount of need. The better a student's family's finances, then the smaller the size of the Pell Grant the student will receive.

How do you qualify for "need-based" aid?

The Department of Education uses your answers on the FAFSA® to determine your ability to pay for college. The formal term for this is your "Expected Family Contribution" or "EFC." Each college costs a different amount to attend. When you add up the tuition with the costs of books, food, and housing, this is called the "Cost of Attendance" or "COA."

Take your COA (Cost of Attendance)...

Subtract your EFC (Expected Family Contribution)...

And you get what financial aid folks call your "Financial Need" or "FN."

These are the major factors that determine how much "need-based" financial aid a person qualifies for, like the Pell Grant.


Have you applied for all the financial aid you qualify for? Only one way to be sure…

Every year, the federal and state governments give out billions of $$$ in financial aid to students to help meet the costs of a college education. Don’t miss out on aid money that could save you or your parents a lot of hard-earned cash over the course of a college degree. Mos (at www.mos.com)is the only financial aid tool that combines the applications for all 500+ federal and state financial aid programs into one super easy-to-use interface. Give it a try for free at mos.com and make sure you get all the financial aid money you qualify for today!

As a reminder, federal and state government operate financial aid programs. Many have their own applications, FAFSA® being the most important one. Mos is not affiliated with the Department of Education or any state agencies. Mos helps students with their FAFSA® for free, and the FAFSA® is also always available from fafsa.gov.

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