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Home Scholarships College Grants How to get Grants for College

How to Get Grants for College

The possibility of receiving free money for school tuition, fees, housing, food, etc. is lucrative to students and it requires work on your part. The first thing to do before searching for grants is to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) for federal aid. Alongside federal money, you may qualify for grants from institutions, states, and private groups who may have grants based on student-specific qualities.

FAFSA Application

The FAFSA collects information about you, your parents (that is if you are listed as a dependent on their taxes), and your financial background. In conjunction with your school’s cost of attendance, your competed application helps you access federal grants, federal student loans, and work-study funds. 

If you are a high school student, it would be prudent to sit down with your parent or legal guardian to complete your FAFSA application. Even if you do not think you qualify for federal grants, you still may have access to federal student loans which come with certain benefits that are not always found with private loans. 

Federal Grants

After filing your FAFSA, any college where you are accepted will send you a financial aid award letter. Your financial aid award letter will include your offered financial aid, including what grants are awarded to you. If you receive grants, this type of financial aid does not usually have to be paid back. There are some exceptions apply such as, if you withdraw from school and still owe a refund, or if you don’t complete your service obligation with a TEACH Grant.

More >>> Do I Have to Pay Back Grants?

Types of Federal Grants

If your university or college participates in receiving federal student aid, your FAFSA may award you one of the following grants: 

Federal Pell Grants are awarded through the Department of Education and intended to help students from low-income households attend and pay for college. Pell Grant money can be applied to tuition, fees, room and board, and other educational expenses. To receive the Pell Grant, your first step is to complete and submit the FAFSA. The information from the FAFSA will generate your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Your EFC in conjunction with the cost of attendance at your school, your enrollment status (full time or part time), and the amount of time in the year you intend to attend, will determine how much Pell Grant money you will be awarded. Pell Grant amounts vary year to year, so you should try to complete the FAFSA early each year as your financial status may change over time.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG) are a type of campus-based financial aid. Not all schools participate in the FSEOG program, and participating schools award these grants to the students who have exceptional need. Students who have no or the lowest EFC and have demonstrated need to receive a Pell Grant are awarded priority status to FSEOG money. This grant is awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis, so it is recommended that you complete and file your FAFSA as early as possible as FSEOG grant funds are limited. 

Teach Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grants provide funding to students who are participating in the TEACH Grant Program. Students agree to teach full-time as a highly qualified teacher or special education teacher for four years in a high-need field for an elementary or secondary school, or educational service agency that serves low-income students. Failure to meet TEACH Grant requirements results in the grant converting to an unsubsidized student loan. 

Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants are available only to undergraduate students. If you had a parent pass away as a result of military service performed in Iraq or Afghanistan after the events of 9/11(September 11, 2001), you may be considered for the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant. You may be able to receive the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant if you are enrolled as an undergraduate student but did not qualify for a Pell Grant based on your family’s EFC but still met all the other requirements pertaining to the Pell Grant. At the time of their passing, you must have been under 24 years old or enrolled in college at least half-time. 

College Grants

Your FAFSA information is not only for the federal government. Your school may use the information provided on the FAFSA to determine if they have specific grants that may be applicable to you. But you should review your school’s financial aid website to determine if any additional financial aid applications are required, like the CSS Profile ™. If you have any questions, check with your school’s financial aid office for more information on potential school-specific grants. 

State Grants

Depending on the state you live in, you may be eligible for state grants. Some state grants are for students who are attending college within their state of residence, but check the requirements for grants thought your state department of education. 

Grants with Private Groups and Organizations

If you are pursuing a particular field of study, check with businesses, corporations, and professional associations that align with the core of your education. There may be grants that you may be eligible for. Some corporate grants require you to work for the organization during school part-time, during breaks, or upon graduation. Carefully read the fine print before accepting corporate grants and understand your obligations—you may also want to check out the terms if you do not meet the requirements of the grant. 

Grants for Students

Grants are available to a variety of students, so think about possible categories you might apply for. Your status as a graduate or undergraduate student allows you access to a variety of grants, as does your financial status. Your ethnicity, race, or heritage could allow you access to different grants. If you are first-generation college student or female there may also be grants that you find valuable. Think about what makes you an individual and try to find grants that fit your particular criteria. 

How is Grant Money Received?

Grants are considered financial aid. Generally, you can expect your grant money to be released to your school first. The way that money is  disbursed (released) may vary  depending on the amount of money and your university’s disbursement calendar. When it comes to federal grants, they are usually released in two parts, one at the beginning of the school year and one at the midpoint. The amounts may vary but will add up to the total amount of what you were awarded.

More >>> Financial Aid Disbursement: When and How You Will Get It

How to Finance your College Education

You may not have a say in what kind of federal aid you receive or don’t receive. If you don’t receive aid, know that college can still be an option to you. The FAFSA is still a valuable resource used by more than just the federal government and can assist you in finding grant money from other sources, like your state and school. 

More >>> What should I do if I filed the FAFSA, but got no aid?

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