So, my Pell Grant award is $5,645.00. I go to a California community college, and qualify for the BOG waiver, which means I don't pay tuition. The 15 credits I'm taking cost me less than $10, and I'm dead serious about that. My books will, of course, cost a fair amount, but I'd be freakin' blown away if it came anywhere near the Pell grant amount.
So what do I do? I've looked into declining and/or giving back some of it. There seem to be some very large upsides to declining, but I can't find any for giving back a partial amount. I'm sure there are some, but could someone tell me what they are?
Here's what my situation is:
- I plan to transfer in two years, probably to Humboldt State, and the yearly cost there is around 22k.
- I fully intend on getting a masters, and it's very likely I'll go on to a doctorate.
- I work part time, and get about $350 a month, though it's usually more (but not usually over $425).
- I live at home, though I would love to not need to. I love my mother, but it's just time for me to go. However, I only have the time to work my current amount of hours what with school and everything, and there's no way I could live on what I make, even with a ton of roommates.
Here's what I may do with the grant:
- Get a car. I need a car desperately, but again, on my salary I couldn't afford a payment, insurance, gas, and maintenance all in the same month. I'd have to eat and clothe myself with the upholstery.
- Move out. I'd have to really research this.
- Save it, I guess?
Here are my worries:
- My last FAFSA, both my mother and I were unemployed. Now she gets $9,800 a year, and I get probably around $5000. (Don't worry, we aren't in poverty. We live with my grandmother, who owns the home and has had the mortgage paid off for thirty years and pays utilities. We just pay for our own food and such.) I also have nearly $1,000 in savings, and it is my habit to put 30% of every paycheck into savings. I'm concerned about getting too many assets in my name and getting a higher EFC number. I need financial aid to go to school.
- I don't need this money now; I need it later, while at the four-year and in grad school. My CC is dirt cheap to begin with, and with the waiver I only pay for books. I need food on the table, yes, but I'm doing okay (not great though, if I'm honest) as is.
So what do I do? Give it back? Decline it? Save it? Use it on living expenses/transportation?
Any help would be appreciated. Thank you so much in advance.