You probably know that a good strategy for maximizing your education funding and minimizing your student loan debt, is to pursue as many funding sources as possible. For American students, one very good source of government grants for education or education grants is an oldie, but a goodie: the Pell Grant.

The Pell Grant has been around since 1972 and has helped a huge number of students, from the Disco Era, to the Me Generation, to Generation X, to the Millennium Generation, to today’s college kids, continue and complete their educations. It’s available to higher education students all across the country, with just a couple of circumstances that would cause disqualification such as a past drug conviction.

The way that you qualify for the Pell Grant is to complete a standard form called the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), then submit it to the United States Department of Education. They have a standard formula that they use to determine your eligibility and set the amount that you’re expected to contribute yourself. From that, the amount of the grant is set, and it can be as much as several thousand dollars per year. An additional fact to be aware of is that some other educational grants (such as state-based funding), require that you’ve already filled out your FAFSA before you can apply for their government grants for students.

So, while it’s a good idea to cover all the bases in your quest for education funding, the best place to start is by filling out your FAFSA and qualifying for the Pell Grant!