Financial aid comes in several forms, and if you’re applying to college or have a child who is applying, you’ll end up needing to know at least something about all of them in order to get the maximum possible financial aid.
Grants for school are one of the best forms of financial aid; not only are they relatively easy to get, but they’re also free—you won’t need to pay them back in most cases, like you would with student loans. There are several types of grants; some come from the federal government, others from state governments, and still others from third-party charities, organizations, and companies or even individuals.
Let’s take a look at how to find grants for college and the different types available.
Federal Grants for College
The Department of Education offers several types of federal grants. The most popular of these is the Pell Grant, and it’s given to undergraduate students who demonstrate significant financial need. In order to be eligible, you must not be incarcerated or subject to an involuntary civil commitment upon completion of incarceration for a sexual offense.
You apply for a Pell Grant by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA); if you qualify, the grant will be given as part of your financial package and could be as much as $6,095.
Other grants offered by the federal government include the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, or FSEOG, which is between $100 and $4,000 and is also offered to students with financial need. Like the Pell Grant, the FSEOG uses the FAFSA for its application.
The TEACH Grant is given to students who plan to serve as teachers in low-income areas, and the Iraq/Afghanistan Service Grant is for students who saw military service in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
State-Based Financial Aid Grants
Several states offer a variety of grants to students hailing from that state. Texas has the Education and Training Voucher for youths aging out of foster care, for instance.
Almost every state offers at least one grant program, usually but not always limited to students who will remain in the state for their college years. Each state has its own criteria for eligibility and application, so it’s best to research your own state to find out what’s available and how to apply.
Do Private Companies or Individuals Offer Grants?
A number of private companies, organizations, and individuals offer educational grants to both undergraduate and graduate students. Many companies offer these grants for school to people who they believe will be an asset to their industry or will end up coming to work for them.
Others are offered to members of a specific ethnic group or personal situation, such as Hispanic women or students with Norwegian ancestry. Still others exist to help people working to overcome adversity, such as a single parent pursuing a difficult STEM (sciences, technology, engineering, or mathematics) degree.
Individuals often set up scholarship and grant funds with an estate or endowment in honor of a former professor, a visionary in an industry, or other individual. Often they establish the grant program in an effort to help a student who is attempting to follow that individual’s career path or further their research.
Each grant has separate criteria for application and consideration, and some also come with strings attached; in some cases, you need to major in a specific field or state in writing that you will be using your education to work in a specific locale or industry.
Can Someone Pay for the Entire Cost of College With Grants?
The short answer is no; generally, students won’t be able to cover their entire college education with grants—even for just one year. Once you’ve received all the grants that you can, however, you can start looking at other options to fill the gap between your grants and the actual cost of attendance.
You may want to look at federal financial aid; if you already filled out a FAFSA in hopes of receiving some federal grants, then you may also get other forms of federal aid such as work-study or student loans as part of your total financial aid package from your school. As a final resort, you can also look into private student loans—as long as you have good credit and a cosigner.
Financial aid can seem complex, but there are plenty of options available for funding, even just in the grant landscape. You can get approved for several if you’re willing to research them, adhere to the submission guidelines, and get your necessary paperwork in on time. With just a few grants, you’ll be well on your way to funding your pursuit of a degree.