The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant–or FSEOG–is often confused with the Pell Grant. The two grants are not one and the same. However, they do work in conjunction with each other. People who receive Pell Grants are first in line to receiving a FSEOG. Like a Pell Grant, it doesn't need to be paid back.
The FSEOG and Pell Grants have a similar maximum award–$4,000. Because tuition can be well above $4,000, students with extreme financial need look to combine the Pell and the FSEOG together. When combined, the Pell and The FSEOG can amount to $8000 of federal aid that does not need to be paid back.
Receiving a Pell is the first step in the process towards receiving the FSEOG. As such, the FSEOG has an extra requirement–you first must qualify and receive a Pell Grant. To receive a Pell Grant, you must first submit a FAFSA application. After the Pell Grant is awarded, you can then apply for a FSEOG.
The Difference Between a FSEOG and a Pell Grant
The major difference between the FSEOG and Pell Grant is that a Pell Grant is federally guaranteed, whereas a FSEOG is not. When you are awarded a Pell Grant, you are assured of receiving whatever amount has been awarded. There is no similar guarantee that every eligible student will be able to receive the FSEOG. The federal government ensures that each college will have enough funds to pay out every eligible Pell Grant. FSEOG grants, on the other hand, come out of the college's own pocket. As colleges don't have an unlimited bank account, it is not guaranteed that a FSEOG will be awarded.
As a result, FSEOG grants can be quite low at times–as low as $200. Receiving the full amount for both the Pell and the FSEOG is by no means a given. A FSEOG may be well below what the student receives from the Pell. Even so, this form of gift aid does not need to be paid back so it is highly sought-after by those students demonstrating financial need.
Because a student has already demonstrated financial need by receiving a Pell Grant, it is easier to then apply for the FSEOG. While you still need to prove financial need, the FSEOG will have similar calculations to the Pell–family income, size of the family, expenses, as well as the Cost of Attendance to the college of choice. If you have already been accepted for a Pell Grant, you have sufficiently demonstrated financial need.