For many students, the prospect of paying for their education can be daunting and even terrifying. The price of college tuition has skyrocketed over the years. But, that doesn’t mean that a college education is out of a student’s reach, no matter what their family income. Each year, millions of students receive financial aid that allows them to pay for the cost of school. There are two forms of financial aid: free and not free. Free aid includes grants and scholarships. Aid that isn’t free includes student loans, which need to be paid back, with interest. It’s in the student’s best interest to get as much free aid as they can.
The federal government has a number of grant programs for students who have demonstrated a financial need. In the 2007-2008 academic year, nearly half of all undergraduate students received some form of financial aid from the government. Twenty percent of those students received a grant. The main type of federal grant is the Pell Grant, which is only offered to students enrolled in associates or bachelors degree programs. To qualify for a federal grant, or any type of federal student aid, a student needs to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The sooner a student completes the FAFSA, the better, as each school is only given a certain amount of grant money.
Students who are eligible for a Pell Grant might also be eligible for a Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG). The FSEOG is given to students based on need, so the students with the greatest amount of financial need are more likely to receive the grant. The grants are also awarded on a first come, first served basis. Amounts of the grant vary from $100 to up to $4,000.
A Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant (TEACH) is given to a student who promises to teach in a high-need area after graduation. Before a student can receive the grant, they need to sign an agreement, pledging to work in a high need field, teaching elementary or secondary students or working with an educational service agency that works with students from low-income families. The student must also agree to finish a four-year degree within eight years. TEACH grants aren’t need-based, but a student does need to maintain a grade point average of at least 3.25.
- Federal Student Aid – Grants and Scholarships
- Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant
- TEACH Grants
The big federal grant is the Pell grant, which is given to students who have yet to earn a bachelor’s degree. The maximum amount of the grant varies from year to year. For the 2012-2013 school year, the maximum was $5,550. Grants awarded are equal to or less than the maximum based on the student’s need. The size of the grant also depends on the student’s enrollment level. A student enrolled part-time will most likely receive a smaller grant than a student who is full-time. Unlike the FSEOG, the Pell Grant is not given on a first come, first served basis. Each student who qualifies for the grant will receive the amount they are eligible for. Starting in 2012, students were only able to receive the Pell Grant for up to 12 semesters.
Several states also offer grant programs to college students. Like federal grants, state grants are often awarded based on a student’s financial need. In a lot of cases, state grants are given to students who are residents of the state and who decide to attend a college in their home state. The grants are usually not given if a student leaves the state to attend college. A student who is interested in finding out about any grants available in their state should contact the school they are applying to or get in touch with the education department in their state.
Specific Career Grants
Students who know that they will pursue a particular career path should think about finding grants and scholarships for that major or career. Grants for specific careers often have more requirements than need-based grants. A student typically has to demonstrate some talent in the field. For example, if a student wants to be a writer and pursues a writing grant, they will more likely than not need to submit a writing sample with the grant application. Grades are also important when applying for career grants or scholarships. Many scholarships require that a student maintain a 3.0 GPA, if not higher.
- SMART Scholarship
- Women in Science and Engineering Grant Program
- Incoming Freshman Grants and Talent Scholarships
- National Institutes of Health Undergraduate Scholarship Program
Grants for minority students encourage students from ethnic groups or genders who are usually underrepresented in higher education to apply to and attend college. Some minority grants are intended to encourage students to stay in school beyond freshman year. The goal of these grants is to encourage and improve diversity at college campuses. Some grant or scholarship programs are awarded based on a student’s ethnicity, while others are given to female students. Some minority scholarships and grants are awarded to students with learning or physical disabilities. As with other grants, the student needs to maintain a certain GPA and might need to demonstrate financial need.