How to Get a College Grant: A Guide for Students and Parents
College grants can help reduce the financial strain of going to college. Here’s a complete guide on how to secure a college grant for you.
Cumulative federal student loan debt has skyrocketed to $1.6 trillion and continues to rise for over 45 million borrowers.
This significant financial burden can be avoided if you know how to find and apply for college grants. Unlike a student loan, a college grant doesn’t have to be paid back. College grants typically have stricter eligibility requirements.
Keep reading to learn more about this type of financial aid and how you can secure it.
What Are College Grants?
A lot of first-time college students confuse college grants with loans. Both provide students with funds to help them pay for education.
The big difference between the two is that you have to pay back student loans, but you don’t have to pay back scholarships or grants.
However, there are certain circumstances where you will have to pay back this free money. If you withdraw early from your education program or change your enrollment status, your grants may become void.
Grants for college are need-based. Scholarships can be either need-based or merit-based. Scholarships can be given out based on ability, hobby, religion, ethnicity, etc. In rare situations, there are merit-based grants.
College grants: the key to an affordable education. Apply now!
How to Get a College Grant Through FAFSA
Applying for FAFSA should be your first plan of action if you are looking to get a college grant. Follow these steps to complete the application:
Fill Out the FAFSA
College grants are given out by both state and federal governments. To find out if you are eligible and qualify for college grants, fill out the FAFSA online.
Once your application is submitted, colleges can decide how much financial aid you qualify for.
Your financial aid package might include work-study programs and federal student loans in addition to grants.
Submit Your Application Before the Deadline
FAFSA applications typically drop on the first of October each year. To have the best chances of receiving aid, fill out your application as soon as it opens. Most grants are awarded to the initial applicants.
To complete the FAFSA, you’ll need access to your family’s tax returns. Set aside time to fill out this application and collect the necessary documents.
Receive Your Financial Aid Offer
The colleges that accepted you will send you financial aid offers based on your application. Your offers will tell you whether or not you qualify for college grants and other financial aid types.
You don’t have to accept every financial aid offer. You might have more than one piece of financial aid in your complete offer. You can pick and choose which ones are best for your situation.
How to Get a State Grant
A lot of states require that you fill out the FAFSA online to be eligible for grants. Certain states, like New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, have separate grant applications and the FAFSA application.
Use this tool on the Department of Education’s website to help you find agencies that are responsible for distributing state grants.
How to Get a College Grant Through Your University
Applying for FAFSA is the most convenient way to apply for a college grant through your university. They will take your information into account when deciding what to offer you.
However, universities tend to offer their own separate grant and scholarship applications that you can apply for to receive additional funds for your education.
If you know what university you are planning to attend, check the university’s website and schedule an appointment to meet with a financial aid counselor.
They will have the most information about the different types of grants available through the college and other sources.
Ask if your school offers need-based grants, merit-based grants, or both. They can help you decide which is right for you so you don’t waste your time applying for something you aren’t eligible to receive.
Working directly with your university to receive funds is a great option for second years and beyond that don’t qualify for the traditional grants offered through FAFSA.
Secure your future today with a college grant!
Types of College Grants
The two types of college grants are need-based and merit-based. Need-based grants are a lot more common.
Need-based grants are awarded to college students based on their economic situation.
Most schools will consider your financial need through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and with your expected family contribution (EFC).
EFC is the number your school will use to calculate how much financial aid you are eligible for. In basic terms, EFC is the amount your family is expected to pay for your college education based on their earnings.
Even if your family is adamant about you paying for college yourself, EFC is a huge factor in determining your grant eligibility.
Although students with higher EFCs receive more loans than grants, the possibility of getting grants is still open.
In contrast, merit-based grants are awarded to college students with high levels of academic achievement, excellent leadership skills, or a commitment to community service.
You can apply for both need-based and merit-based grants through the FAFSA. You might find additional luck with college grants by finding third-party options offered in your state. Find these through a quick internet search.
There are some grants, like the Academic Competitiveness Grant, that are a combination of need-based and merit-based, available for college freshmen and sophomores.
There are specific grants available for college students, such as:
Federal Pell Grants
Federal Pell Grants are awarded to undergraduate students more often than not. This is a need-based grant based on your financial need and the cost to attend your school.
You’ll need to complete the FAFSA, which includes the Pell Grant application process.
TEACH grants are merit-based grants offered only to students who agree to teach for four years in a high-need field at one of the following:
- Elementary school
- Secondary school
- Educational service agency
You can apply for a TEACH grant every year by submitting the FAFSA.
Since there are specific requirements that can affect your eligibility for this type of grant, you need to complete TEACH Grant counseling and sign an Agreement to Serve.
Some schools still require you to wear face masks, so keep this in mind when applying.
You will have to undergo this counseling and fill out the documents every year that you wish to receive money from this grant.
Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants (FSEOG)
Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants (FSEOG) help low-income undergraduate students that need a large amount of financial aid to go to college.
Schools that participate in gifting this type of grant receive a certain amount of FSEOG funds every year through the United States Department of Education’s Office of Federal Student Aid.
These funds are limited. FSEOG awards are given out on a first-come, first-served basis, so it’s important to fill out the FASFA application as soon as possible.
Once all of the FSEOG funds have been given out to students, no more awards are offered within that year.
Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants
Students with a parent or legal guardian that died as a result of military service after September 11, 2001, are eligible for Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants.
Students might have to meet other eligibility requirements to receive this type of grant.
In addition to Iraq and Afghanistan service grants, there are other armed services grants that students can apply for. Active duty and reserve members of the following can qualify for assistance to pay for higher education:
- Air Force
- Coast Guard
Veterans of any branch of the armed services are eligible for GI Bill funding that covers most, if not all, of their college costs and living expenses.
If you are in need of a college grant as an international student, you can apply for the Fulbright Program. This international educational exchange program is sponsored by the United States government.
There are fewer grant opportunities for international students compared to those for domestic students.
Grants for Women
Women’s grants are specifically for female students of any background that want to pursue educational programs and careers that have historically been unavailable to women.
Here are some of the options from organizations that have taken active steps to support equal opportunities for women in education and career development:
- Soroptimist Live Your Dream Award
- The Education Support Award from the Patsy Takemoto Mink Education Foundation
- The P.E.O. Program for Continuing Education (PCE)
Most of these grants for women are provided to need-based students.
Grants for Minorities
The FAFSA application is open to all ethnicities, but there are college grants offered specifically to minority applicants. If you are a minority, take your background into account when applying for grants.
Fill out the FAFSA first and foremost. Afterward, begin exploring your options through private corporations, ethnic foundations, and government agencies that issue grants for minority students.
Ethnic minority grants might be provided based on need or merit. They will help support the advancement of education for minorities.
If you are still in high school, check with your counselor for information on grants specific to minorities. You can also check with the financial aid office of your desired university.
Grants for National Organizations
Disabled students have access to both private and public educational grants. If you are part of a disabled private or public organization and want to pursue a college education, ask these organizations for more information.
There are individuals and workplaces that dedicate college funds to individuals with physical or mental disabilities like blindness, cystic fibrosis, or breast cancer.
Degree-Specific College Grants
You won’t be able to find degree-specific college grants through the FAFSA. To apply for such grants, you’ll need to apply through private and nonprofit organizations.
Degree-specific grants are exactly what they sound like. They help students pursue a degree in a certain career field. You can often find grants like this if you are pursuing a degree in journalism, agriculture, geology, etc.
Get free money for college – apply for a grant today!
Top Tips for Finding College Grants
It’s easy to get off track when you are looking for college grants outside of the traditional FAFSA route. To make earning grant money less time-consuming, follow these tips to help you find the best opportunities:
Think About Selection Criteria
Never waste your time on a grant application that you aren’t eligible for. Make sure you read the requirements thoroughly to find out if you are eligible.
Consider the different categories that eligibility is generally based on, such as:
- Education status
- Financial status
- Special skills
- Academic performance
- Field of study
Use this information to research the best grant opportunities available.
Subscribe to a Scholarship Search Engine
There are different college board search engines that can notify you when a grant application is available that fits your eligibility requirements.
Keep in mind that a lot of financial aid scams are on the internet. Don’t pay sites to provide you with information about grants. All reputable search engines will offer these details for free.
Want to save money on college? Apply for a grant now!
Keep Your Grades Up
Many grants are based on financial need, but as we’ve discussed, there are some given out based on merit.
If you wish to receive grants on merit, you’ll likely need to meet GPA requirements. Focus on your grades while you are applying for college grants because they will impact your chances of receiving funds.
Create a Calendar
Grant applications have strict deadlines that can differentiate between application to application. Create a calendar for these deadlines so you don’t miss out on anything important.
Allow yourself enough time to gather the documents you’ll need to submit a grant application. For instance, you’ll need tax documents for the FAFSA, and some state grant applications ask that you send in a letter of recommendation.
Add the first day of classes to your calendar to prepare for the school year. Consider adding weight loss exercises to your schedule to avoid gaining the freshman 15.
Going Off to College Can Be Stressful
Applying for college, securing grants, and completing schoolwork full-time can be stressful. When you are learning how to apply for a college grant all the way until you start college, you need to take care of yourself.
With a healthy diet and supplements, you can manage any stress that you come across. Check out our nutrition blog for helpful tips that you can use on your wellness journey.
Apply now for college grants – secure your financial aid without student loans!
Read More About: How to Pay for College Without Going Into Debt
**Data collected and distributed by the National Center for Education Statistics https://nces.ed.gov/pubs2022/2022144.pdf
***Data collected and distributed by the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study https://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2022144