Don’t let money stand in the way of education and career goals! One of the most sought after forms of aid is an education grant. Education grants are free money provided to help individuals pay for college.
Usually issued by the government, private or nonprofit organizations, grants are a form of financial aid that never have to be repaid. Often times, grants are awarded based on the individual’s needs in contrast to scholarships which are normally awarded based on the individual's merit.
Top Federal Grant Programs For Individuals
The U.S. Department of Education provides several different federal grants to students. It is essential to research the grants available in order to make an informed decision regarding which option best fits the student’s needs. Below is information on the major federal student grant programs:
Federal Pell Grant
- This grant is for undergraduate students who can demonstrate financial need. The grant amount is based on the student’s level of need, the cost of tuition and if the student is attending college on a part- or full-time basis. The maximum amount awarded is $5,920 as of January 2018.
Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)
- This grant is awarded to the student’s with the most financial need and is administered directly by the financial aid office at participating schools (not all schools participate). Student’s are eligible to receive between $100 and $4,000 a year. The earlier students apply the better chances of receiving the grant.
Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant (TEACH)
- This grant is a bit different from other federal grants as a student must enroll in specific classes and pursue a certain career for the grant to remain non repayable. A student can receive up to $4,000 if they plan to complete coursework to work towards a teaching career.
Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant
- This grant is awarded to students whose parent or guardian was a member of the U.S. armed forces and died as a result of military service after September 11, 2001. Students are eligible to receive up to $5,920 to put towards their education.
How To Apply
Typically grants are awarded to individuals in financial need. Students that are eligible are required to apply to determine if they qualify. To apply for Federal grants a student must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, otherwise known as FASFA. The FASFA website allows students to learn more about and apply for grants, loans, and work-study funds to assist in financing their education. This website even provides a tool for students to estimate the aid they will receive, which can help them plan ahead when it comes to financing their education. It is important that students interested in financial assistance through FASFA are aware of specific deadlines in order to submit their application on time.
State and Other Grant Types
Other great options for students interested in finding funding for their education are state grants. Most state grants apply to in-state schools, but some opportunities allow students to use grant money to pay for out-of-state tuition. The ways to apply for specific state grants vary but many of them include filling out the FASFA. Students may also be asked to apply to the state’s education department or directly with the school by listing it on the completed FASFA. As an invaluable tool for students, state grants should always be explored to assist in college funding.
There are a great number of other grants offered by specific colleges/universities used to attract students to their campuses and offer additional funding. Depending on the career path a student chooses, there are also cause and career specific grants offered by universities and private or nonprofit organizations.
There are a few instances where it may be necessary for students to repay the grant money awarded to them. One example of this is when a student withdraws from school before finishing an enrollment period, such as a semester. Another example is if the student’s enrollment status changes (ie full-time to part-time) the grant amount can be reduced. In order to avoid these circumstances, students should be fully aware of the terms and requirements of the grant funds they accept.
Scholarships, similar to grants, do not have to be repaid. They are gifted funds that students can use to finance their education. Scholarships are offered by several different sources including schools, employers, individuals, private or nonprofit organizations, religious groups etc. Learn how to locate and apply to scholarships here.