Need-based grant aid can be hard to estimate. After all, there aren’t specifics stated for income requirements and more grant aid can be awarded in one year. So how to predict how much financial aid your student might receive next year?
1. Figure out which grants are renewable.
When you look at your current financial aid package, some grants may be granted annually, provided the student meets certain condition such as maintaining a minimum GPA or full-time student status. Full-time student status is usually considered 12 or more credits in a semester. Pell Grants--federal grants based on financial need--aren’t renewable. However, if family income hasn’t significantly increased, you’ll likely qualify in future years. Other awards may specify that they are just for one year. For instance, there may be grants that are just for first-year students. When in doubt, call the financial aid office. There may be other awards for later college years. You may also find out about additional scholarships and score even more money for this year or future years.
2. Use Net Price Calculators.
Net Price Calculators on university websites allow families to input things like GPA and family income to see how much need-based financial aid, including grants, a student might receive. It’s not exact. You haven’t put in an application yet and it’s generally based on last year’s financial aid availability. Call the financial aid office, too. You may find the number of university grants for next year may increase or decrease. Since it’s a fairly quick process to do a calculation, input numbers for income or other factors you think might change in the following year or two. You can get an idea of how the change might affect future grant awards.
Note: If grant aid decreases, you should still apply and see what happens. Apply early in case first-come, first-serve grant aid money runs out.
3. Learn grant award limits.
The federal Pell Grant is limited to 12 semesters, generally for undergraduate studies. There are other grants for graduate school, but you shouldn’t count on this particular award for graduate studies. As an undergraduate, the 12 semester limit probably won’t affect you. 12 semesters is roughly equivalent to six years, which is plenty of time for most students to complete their degree. Other grants may be limited to just the first year or to junior and senior years.