What Is a College Grant?

A grant is a form of gift aid awarded to college students that, in most cases, does not have to be paid back. Grants can be awarded based on merit or demonstrated financial need and award amounts are program specific. The federal government, state governments, private organizations, and schools can all offer grants for college.

Let’s explore more in depth what college grants are and how they make a big difference in getting your education at a more affordable price.

College Grants Explained

Grants, a form of gift aid, can help make college more affordable for students all over the country.

Grants, a form of gift aid, can help make college more affordable for students all over the country.

Imagine receiving money to help pay for college without having to pay it back. That’s what college grants are—a type of financial aid awarded based on factors like your family’s income, academic performance, or chosen field of study. Awards may also be available in your state for minorities, students from low-income households, students pursing high-need fields, veterans, active service members, those with disabilities, and those in foster care.

Unlike loans, grants don’t require repayment, and they’re not as restrictive as scholarships.

Both the federal and state governments offer grants for college. Their purpose is to ensure everyone, no matter their financial situation, has the chance to go to college.

Types of Grants

  • Need-Based Grants: Also known as opportunity grants, these are awarded based on the financial need of the student or their family. Federally funded need-based grants, such as the Pell Grant and the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG), are provided by the federal government. Similarly, individual states offer state-funded need-based grants like the Cal Grant in California or the TEXAS Grant in Texas. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and/or state-specific financial aid applications generally determine eligibility for need-based financial need.
  • Merit-Based Grants: These grants are awarded to students based on their academic achievements, talents, or accomplishments. While some merit-based grants are federally funded, others may be offered by private organizations, colleges, or universities. Merit-based grants recognize exceptional performance or special skills and provide financial assistance to support students’ educational pursuits.
  • Field-Specific Grants: Designed for students pursuing specific fields of study, such as science or the arts, these grants provide additional support to students in their chosen academic disciplines. Field-specific grants may be offered by government agencies, private organizations, or educational institutions to encourage students to pursue careers in high-demand fields or areas of critical need. Eligibility criteria for these grants often include academic performance, career goals, and alignment with the objectives of the grant program.

How to Apply for a College Grant

To apply for a college grant, start by filling out a form called the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This is usually the first step in the process. It can make you eligible for various federal financial aid programs, including the Pell Grant. Depending on the specific grant, there may be extra requirements. So, it’s crucial to carefully review the application details. To boost your chances of receiving a college grant, consider these helpful tips:

  • Find All of the Grants You Can Apply To: Explore available grants through online databases, your college’s financial aid office, and community organizations. This can help you identify opportunities that match your needs and qualifications. To make it simple, use the College Raptor Scholarship Search tool. We can match you with thousands of suitable scholarships and grants, all in one place.
  • Don’t Forget About State Grants: If you are staying in your home state for college, you may be eligible for several in-state grants. Check out our in-depth guide on finding this free college money!
  • Meet Deadlines: Pay close attention to application deadlines. Also, make sure to submit all required documents on time. If you miss a deadline, your application could be disqualified. So, stay organized and plan ahead.
  • Provide Required Documents: Be thorough in completing your application by providing all necessary documents and information. This includes financial records, academic transcripts, and any other materials requested by the grant provider.

Eligibility for college grants can depend on factors like financial need, academic performance, and background. To improve your chances of receiving grants, focus on maintaining good grades. Understanding these requirements is crucial for navigating the application process effectively.

What To Do After You Receive a College Grant

Once you receive a college grant, it’s important to manage it wisely. Consider these helpful tips:

  • Start by creating a budget to plan how you’ll use the money for things like tuition, books, and living expenses.
  • Keep track of your spending to avoid using the money on non-essentials.
  • Be sure to understand any rules attached to the grant, like maintaining a certain GPA.
  • Focus on using the grant for education-related costs and seek advice from financial aid advisors if needed.
  • Consider saving any leftover money for future expenses.

By following these steps, you can make the most of your college grant and set yourself up for success in your academic journey.

College grants break down financial barriers and open doors to higher education for students from all backgrounds. If you’re still unsure where you’re attending college, check out the free College Raptor College Match tool.