Free College Grant Money
If you think college is out of reach for you, for financial reasons, think again. Millions of students receive free financial help to attend college, every year.
There are thousands of grants, just awaiting applicants and everyone qualifies for one or more of them.
This guide will show you were to look for free college grant money and add some tips on how to apply and what the people in charge of administering these funds are looking for in applicants.
Forget about Student Loans
Student loans are a painful subject for many who received their degrees and then found the job market hard to enter, or wages lower than expected. Payments on the loans that helped them gain their qualifications may become increasingly difficult to repay, especially during the early years of employment.
This money is different from college loans students take out to fund their studies.
There is no need to pay it back and no crippling debt to cast a shadow over your first decade or so of employment.
Advantages in Job Hunting
In the current job hunting atmosphere, it makes sense to get relevant qualifications which will give you an advantage over less well educated applicants.
A college degree listed on job application forms often means you are placed at the top of the pile, since employees typically get so many wanting to fill good positions, they will look at the best qualified, first.
Taking a degree course in a subject that interests you also gives time to explore a chosen career.
Many courses run programs where students can spend time with professionals already working in their chosen fields. If an internship is offered and accepted by the student, this can lead to a job offer at the end of their period of study.
A Flexible Approach to Grant Hunting
Prospective students in need of extra financing for college courses are advised to start research and applications as early as possible, so they do not miss out on grants those quotas are filled up early, and they apply to as many different institutions as possible.
A flexible approach is recommended, because a grant that is not available for a certain subject in one state (say California) may be available two states over (say Colorado). Consider not just the main subject you are interested in, but related courses that may give you a chance to switch over, later on.
Getting Ready for Grant hunting
Free college grant money is not the sole preserve of small bodies of students, but it may assist your case if you fall into one or more of the following categories. Common ways to qualify include previous service in the US armed forces, being part of any minority, such as religious or ethnic, possessing a special talent for sports or any of the arts and committing to specific areas of study.
Grants for Special Needs
The Pell grant for financially challenged students is the most common grant awarded in the U.S. Full details are listed under the section for government grants. The Academic Competitiveness Grant adds up to $1300 extra for students receiving a Pell grant and opting to study certain subjects designated as,” critical need,” areas.
Illness adds a further strain on student’s financial ability to fund college courses. These and many more organizations seek to enable students to attend college who suffer or have suffered the results of serious illness. More details can be obtained by contacting the organizations specific to each disease.
Just a few of the organizations who offer these special circumstance grants are the Meningitis Trust Foundation, the Komen Foundation Awards and the Cancer Survivor’s Society.
Grants for Special Categories
Service in the U.S. armed forces by the student or in some cases by their parents qualifies them for many grants. The Illinois Veteran Grant (IVG) offers veterans the chance to attend college and the Military Order of the Purple Heart’s award helps support dependants of recipients.
Church membership may offer unexpected benefits if there is a college fund available. Ask your minister to enquire on your behalf. The Aid Association for Lutherans offers aid to members of its church, as does the American Baptist Church National Ministries.
Grants for Special Talents
If you were a leading light in the school band, a star member of the football squad or even a good photographer, there are grants available for college.
Sports scholarships and grants are dealt with by the National Collegiate Athletic Association, but lesser known grants from associations such as the National Strength Conditioning Association and other state-based sports grants are available. Ask your local government office for a list of your home state’s grants.
Arts-based grants are offered to artists in many fields, including female painters from Alpha Delta Kappa International Honorary Sorority for Women Educators Fine Arts, film makers from The Carole Fielding Student Grants, videographers from the University Film and Video Association and the Arch and Bruce Brown Foundation for writers.
Math students have many grant options, a few of which include the Raytheon Company’s offer to mathematic fans of money towards college if they teach a math team,
Alpha Mu Theta helps talented mathematicians, the American Math Society offer grants at all levels of math studies and the National Science Foundation’s aid to combined math and computer science students.
Musicians will find financial aid by competing for grants from them Edgewood College Music Department or electing to study in Hawaii with the Friends of Music at Manoa program.
Photographers are not left out, since the MyParkPhotos.org Foundation and the McKnight Photography Fellowship provide funding for their studies.
Grants for Specific Studies
Grants for very specific subjects are often endowed by benefactors who wish to encourage students in their studies. These include the Caroline and Erwin Swann Foundation- Fellowships for Caricature and Cartoons, the Ruth Simms Hamilton Research Fellowship for African studies, the Nonprofit Sector Research Fund at the Aspen Institute, the Mesoamerican Studies Grants for grants to study Ancient Man and the National Geographic Committee for Research and Exploration in all the subjects their magazine covers.
Industry Sponsored Grants
Company and sector sponsored grants to students ensure a sufficient supply of well qualified future applicants in their area. Some may also offer internships or jobs with the companies who supply financial aid. Major companies run well known schemes, but some smaller ones offer equally useful, and sometimes larger grants, if the subjects are in your area of interest.
The Future Farmers of America supply $2 million dollars a year to students involved in agricultural studies. Future florists find help from the American Floral Endowment Fund.
Theatrical costume students may apply for grants offered by the Costume Society of America’s Stella Blum Research and weavers from the Hand Weaver’s Guild of America. The National Recreation and Park Association assist students in studies involved in park and recreation management.
Accounting and insurance students find aid from the National Society of Accountants and the State Farm Insurance Company, respectively. Computer studies students have a wide range of grant options, including those from the Electronic Document Systems Foundation and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Student Enterprise Award.
For studies relate to hotel management, the American Hotel and Lodging Educational Foundation helps students through qualifying universities. Future journalists should apply for grants at the American Banking Association, the Ocean Science Journalism Fellowship and the Broadcast Education Association.
State Sponsored Grants
This year, approximately 6,000,000 students will receive college grants from the government. Each state has its own list, based on its colleges and usually viewable on its website, explaining what is offered at which locations.
The largest grant scheme in the U.S. is the Pell grant program, designed to give aid to financially challenged students by partially funding their studies. To qualify, students must fulfill these conditions.
- U.S. citizenship, or U.S. nation, or eligible non citizen status
- Submit a completed Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form demonstrating financial need.
- Poses a social Security number.
- Pass the General Education Development (GED), High School Diploma or approved test.
- Registration with the Selective Service program. (Only for males aged 18 to 25.)
- Promise that the grant will be used exclusively for education.
- Show satisfactory progress in academic subjects.
- Currently study at an approved educational facility.
Applying for the Pell Grant
You will need to assemble all the relevant paper work and required signatures to apply for this grant. Since you may need additional grants to supply the correct amount of aid to attend college, it is suggested you keep copies of all the forms you submit and documents required, in a folder or on your computer. This will facilitate easy completion of any later forms.
The form can be partially completed and saved at any stage of the process, online. Detailed steps and information, covering all aspects of this process are available online.
- Decide as early as possible which schools you will be applying to.
- You do not need to wait for results from your Pell (FAFSA) application to do this.
- Download a free FAFSA guide in PDF form, choosing color or black and white.
- FAFSA accepts applications from January 1St of each year and recommends early filing.
- Once you have the form open, complete it in full, (or partially, and save for a later date), ensuring all the information is correct.
- Inaccurate information may result in a rejection of your application.
- Complete your FAFSA application, listing up to ten schools by codes found in locations in your FAFSA guide.
- Apply to the schools if you have not already done so.
If you find additional schools you would like to apply to, after submitting your FAFSA application, they can be added on requested, and your information will be sent to their admissions sections.
If you are accepted by the Pell program, it will show this information on your FAFSA application to colleges, when you log into it, to check on the progress. When financial aid offers from colleges arrive, you can decide which school offers the best options.
Grants for Women
Since 58% of students applying for places at college in the last 12 months were women, many of whom have families and children to consider when seeking higher education; it seems the grants aimed specifically at encouraging their further studies are not all that disproportionate.
Many of these grants offer women a chance to study in a way uniquely suited to their roles as primary caregivers for children, or to enter areas where they are still in a minority in the workforce, including such subjects as science based courses and those with industrial applications.
A number of private women’s colleges offer special grant packages to ensure even severely financially challenged women get a chance to attend college. These may be found through women’s organizations, internet searches and by contacting the colleges directly for information packages.
Examples of Grants for Women
Examples of what is available to women are the Soroptomist International of the America’s Women’s Opportunity Awards, the Kalamazoo Women’s Education Coalition grant and the Raise the Nation Program, all offering financial help with non-specific studies.
Amongst programs aimed at women aged 35 and older, who may have missed the first opportunity to attend college, are the Jeanette Rankin Foundation award, the BPW Foundation created the Career Advancement Scholarship Program for women re-entering the workforce and the P.E.O. Program for Continuing Education.
Women’s Colleges Offering Grants
The financial aid solutions offered by exclusively female colleges are often more comprehensive than those given by mixed colleges. The following colleges support the higher education of women in various programs.
Spelman College, Atlanta has strong links to the city’s African American community and offers substantial financial help to women qualifying by needs, ability or taking a course in a subject they feel elevates the position and increases the respect of women in the workforce.
Agnes Scott College, Atlanta offers its Goizueta Foundation Scholarship to Hispanic students showing leadership qualities, a high academic ability and the need for financial aid.
Wellesley College, Massachusetts uses a large proportion of the funds contributed by its alumni to help fund the studies of students they accept on merit, but also considering a wide number of other factors. Their Davis Scheme gives non traditional students a chance to attend college at bachelor or graduate level.
Barnard College, New York adds to the aid students receive from the government and the list published by the Dean of admissions includes some very valuable grants available to students attending this college.
Nearly half of all students at women’s colleges are receiving financial aid which ranges from government FAFSA grants to those from the colleges, themselves. Institutions with a list of generous alumni have made it possible for grants to be given to students with moderate, as well as severe financial handicaps.
These committed workers see themselves as investing in the future of women, training its future academics and athletes side by side in an atmosphere conducive to producing the nation’s future leaders.
Tips on Grant Applications
- Applying for grants directly from the school’s financial advisor may not cover all your needs; apply to as many sources as necessary to cover your expenses.
- Grant applications often fail because of unclear writing, skipped sections and poor spelling. Writing a grant application is a form of selling, so ensure the product, you, is presented in the best possible light,
- If photos are required for any application, it is worth taking the time to have a new headshot taken and copies made, since first impressions are very important.
- Have a clear idea you can easily communicate to others about why you are choosing the courses of study and what your hopes are for a future career. Enthusiasm for your subject is very appealing, and guarantees a certain amount of dedication to work.
- If you have been working on an application for several hours, get another person to read it back to you, before sending it out. Errors are easily missed, after a long period of work on the same document.
Grants versus Loans
Although it entails more work, pursuing free college grant money means you can leave after the years spent getting your degree with no financial burden, a very good position to be in, for many young professionals find the extra payments a trial at a time they are looking for accommodation, furnishing it and also financing transportation to and from work.
The year after college is also the time many are thinking about marriage, the major expenses incurred in a young person’s life, before they consider taking on a mortgage.
A thorough evaluation of all the factors that may entitle you to grant money often turns up some surprising possibilities, and the range of choices is usually directly proportional to the time and effort spent in research. College loans may seem like a quick and easy way to solve financial problems, but after years studying, you will be glad to walk away owing absolutely nothing.