College grants are primarily awards of free money that do not require any repayment on the part of the recipient. They can be directed toward specific educational expenses, specific types of students, or general purpose. Unlike scholarships, which are typically awarded on the basis of academic achievement or athletic, artistic or extracurricular performance, grants are awarded according to financial need. Grants for college-bound students are supported by a variety of different sources, including:
- Federal and State Governments
- Colleges and Universities
- Public and Private Organizations
- Professional Associations
Federal Grants: The Federal Government is the largest provider of student grants. For those seeking aid, it all starts with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
Pell Grant: A Pell Grant is a subsidy that U.S. federal government provides for students who need it to pay for college. Basically, these are grants, unlike loans do not have to be repaid. Eligible students receive a specified amount each year under this program.
State Grants: State-funded college grants typically address financial needs of low-income students, as well as encouraging and supporting women and minority students in their college careers.
Non-Government Grants: Students searching for non-government funded college grants should begin by combining their status as a student (undergraduate or graduate), their field of interest and their personal background (minority status, gender, etc).
Subject-Specific Grants: Many grant programs are dedicated to the needs of students pursuing specific degrees, and with specific career goals. Typically, these programs are designed to encourage and support those students who are pursuing professional careers in high-need fields such as science, mathematics, healthcare, and education. These subject specific grants are sponsored by a variety of sources, including Federal and state governments, corporations and professional associations.
How to Apply for College Grants:
The process yields funding for your education, so give due diligence to uncovering whatever funding opportunities exist for you. Above all, here are 7 simple points to improve your chances:
- Submit your completed federal application on time, according to FAFSA deadlines. For quickest attention, forms can be filled out online.
- Make sure required state applications are submitted on time and to the proper administering agencies.
- Allow time for corrections and clarifications related to your applications. If a source has finite funding, it could run out of money before your flawed application is considered.
- Align yourself with the financial aid professionals at your school. The financial aid landscape is always changing, so up-to-date knowledge is reserved for those who administer these programs every day. Some applications incorporate recommendations from individual financial aid offices, so you definitely want these staffers to be familiar with your situation.
- Maintain eligibility requirements. Don’t overlook GPA and other requirements that influence your eligibility for ongoing awards.
- Exploit your uniqueness. Investigate opportunities that target students like you. For example, music grants for musicians, race eligible programs, vocational options, and so on.
- Provide proper documentation. Be aware that some applications specify extra documentation that must be submitted for consideration. Academic transcripts, proof of residency, ethnic verification, and other paperwork should be made available on request.