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Pell Grant
Academic Competitiveness Grant
National SMART Grant
Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant
Robert C. Byrd Scholarship
Federal Stafford Student Loan
Parents Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS)

Pell Grant

The Pell Grant is designed to help lower-income students pay their expenses for postsecondary education. The maximum Pell Grant award for the academic year 2011-2012 is $5,550. Both eligibility for a grant and the maximum amount a student might receive are determined by the family’s financial circumstances and the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). A grant, however, may not exceed one half of the total cost at the institution that the student wishes to attend.

There is no separate application for the Pell Grant. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the only application necessary for this grant.

Part-time students are also eligible for Pell Grants, but the award would be reduced according to the amount of time the student is attending school (that is, half-time students would receive half of their grant).

Once the EFC has been established, it is sent to the colleges the student indicated on the FAFSA. The financial aid officer will use the information on the Student Aid Report (SAR) to determine if the student is eligible for a Pell Grant and the exact dollar amount of the grant at that particular institution.

Pell Grants may be used at colleges, vocational, technical, and business schools, and hospital schools of nursing, both public and private, profit and nonprofit.

Academic Competitiveness Grant

The Academic Competitiveness Grant awards students who have successfully completed a rigorous high school program as determined by the state or local education agency and recognized by the Secretary of Education. It provides up to $750 for the first year of undergraduate study and up to $1,300 for the second year of undergraduate study to full-time students who are eligible for a Federal Pell Grant. To maintain eligibility, second year students must also have maintained a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.0.

National SMART Grant

A National SMART (Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent) Grant will provide up to $4,000 for each of the third and fourth years of undergraduate study to full-time students who are eligible for a Federal Pell Grant and who are majoring in physical, life, or computer sciences, mathematics, technology, or engineering, or in a foreign language determined critical to national security. The student must also have maintained a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 in coursework required for the major. The National SMART Grant award is in addition to the student’s Pell Grant award. Students should note that the combined total of both awards may not exceed the total cost of tuition.


The Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant Program is available to students who are currently completing coursework necessary to begin a career in teaching; or those who plan to complete coursework necessary to begin a career in teaching. In order to be eligible for awards of up to $4,000 per year, the candidate must have at least a 3.25 GPA for each payment period. Upon graduation, the student must teach full-time for at least four years within eight years of completing their program, in a school designated as Title I by the U.S. Department of Education, in a high needs subject area. If the grant recipient fails to complete the service obligation, the award will be converted to a Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loan.

Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant

A student who is not eligible for a Pell Grant but whose parent or guardian was a member of the U.S. Armed Forces and died as a result of service performed in Iraq or Afghanistan after September 11, 2001 may be eligible to receive the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant. The grant recipient must be under 24 years old or enrolled in college at least part-time at the time of the parent’s or guardian’s death.

The grant award is equal to the amount of a maximum Pell Grant for the award year - not to exceed the cost of attendance for that award year.

Robert C. Byrd Scholarship

Under this program, the Secretary of Education makes available, through grants to the states, scholarships to exceptionally able students for study at postsecondary schools.
Each high school in the state nominates a number of students for these awards. Awardees must attend a nonprofit degree-granting institution of higher education. Awards of $1,500 are based on merit and are not renewable.


Students and parents should note that the Heath Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 mandates that all schools process loans through the Federal Direct Loan Program (FDLP).

This legislation will change the federal Stafford loan, PLUS loan (for parents and graduate/professional students), and consolidation loan application process.

All federal student loans will now be made directly through the U.S. Department of Education, effective July 1, 2010.

You still have to complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) for Stafford and/or graduate student PLUS loans. Borrowers will have to complete a Master Promissory Note (MPN). Borrowers already in school will have to complete a new MPN. You will accept or decline your federal student loans through your school, which works directly with the federal government. For parents interested in a PLUS loan, completing the PLUS Loan Information Form will initiate the application process.

Contact your school’s financial aid office for detailed information.

Federal Stafford Student Loan

The Federal Stafford Student Loan Program is a long-term, low-interest loan that is operated through the federal government. The loans are available as either subsidized or unsubsidized. To receive a subsidized loan, on which the federal government pays the interest while the student is in school, the borrower must demonstrate financial need. Financial need is not a consideration for securing an unsubsidized loan, for which the borrower pays all the interest. The current maximum amount a dependent student may borrow per year on a subsidized loan ranges from $3,500 to $5,500 per year (plus a maximum of $2,000 in unsubsidized loans) depending on grade level. Independent students may be eligible to borrow higher amounts.

Students may qualify for these loans by demonstrating financial need. Information provided on the FAFSA will determine the student’s eligibility for these loans.

A subsidized Stafford Student Loan cannot exceed the financial need for which it is intended (cost of attendance, minus other financial aid, minus the family contribution).

All students receiving a loan will be required to pay an “origination” fee, up to 4 percent, which may be subtracted from the loan at the time the money is disbursed.

Within six months of finishing school, the student must begin to repay the loan. However, an additional deferment of repayment may be allowed for certain circumstances. Visit for details.

The repayment period for Stafford Loans depends on the amount of the loan and the payment schedule selected. Standard repayment is 10 years; however, it may be extended up to 30 years. A $50 minimum monthly payment is required on all loans. Loans may be repaid early without penalties.

The interest rate for subsidized Stafford Loans first disbursed between July 1, 2010 and June 30, 2011 is a fixed 4.5 percent. The interest rate on subsidized loans first disbursed to undergraduate students between July 1, 2011 and June 30, 2012 will be fixed at 3.4 percent for 2011-2012. Unsubsidized loans carry an interest rate of 6.8 percent.

Parents Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS)

The PLUS loan allows parents to borrow an amount equal to the difference between the student’s cost of attendance (room, board, tuition and fees) and the amount of financial aid the student receives. Currently, PLUS Loans have a fixed interest rate of 7.9 percent.

Repayment of principal and interest must begin within 60 days after parents receive full disbursement of the loan. The interest is not subsidized while the student is in school, unlike the subsidized Stafford and Perkins loans. The PLUS loan charges loan fees of 4 percent, deducted from each disbursement check. Some repayment options give discounts for on-time or electronic payments.



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Polytechnic Institute of NYU
Polytechnic Institute of NYU is New York metropolitan's major educational resource in science and technology education and research.

University of Phoenix
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