Grants are definitely something you should consider applying to when you are looking for ways to get free money for your college education. Grants work much the same way as scholarships in that you do not have to repay any money you receive. The only difference between the two is that grants are need-based while scholarships are awarded for meeting diverse eligibility requirements.
Grants are awarded by federal and state governments, colleges, professional associations, and various public and private organizations.
Federal grants, which are funded by the federal government, should be your first stop when you are looking for financial aid. The Federal Pell Grant is the largest grant program in the US. Other comparable grants are the FSEOG or the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, which aims to support undergrad students with extreme financial aid and the Federal TEACH Grant. The TEACH Grant provides financial assistance only to those students who are willing to sign a contract agreeing to taking up a teaching position in an underserved area for a predetermined period of time.
State Grants are only awarded to students of that particular state. These programs vary widely from one state to another. State grants primarily aim to address the financial needs of low-income students in the state. In addition, some states also offer grants to support women and minority students in their college careers.
Students who are pursuing degrees in high-demand fields such as nursing and teaching may also get state grants.
If you have exhausted the available Federal and state grants, you can then explore non-government grants. These are awarded to deserving students by colleges and universities as well as professional associations and corporations. Several religious organizations offer grants to students who follow the same religion. Local organizations also offer grants to members of their community.
These private sector grants typically have very specific eligibility criteria but you can expect generous financial assistance if you meet their criteria.
Colleges typically offer two types of grants—general grants and specific grants. General grants are offered to all students irrespective of their background or choice of program.
Specific grants may be categorized as student specific subject specific, minority specific or degree level specific. Low-income, non-traditional, and culturally disadvantaged students qualify to apply for student-specific grants.
Students who are enrolled in programs that lead to high-need careers such as healthcare, education, mathematics and science may pursue subject-specific grants.
Minority-specific grants are offered to minority groups who have historically been underserved in the American higher education system. This includes Latinx and Hispanics, Asian Americans, African Americans, and Native Americans.
When you are looking for financial assistance for your college education, don’t stop at scholarships. Grants are a great source for getting much-needed free financial aid towards your higher education goals.
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