How To Get Federal Grants for College

How To Get Federal Grants for College
Photo by James Loesch – CC BY 2.0

Federal Grants for college are a wonderful financial gift to receive. Unlike loans, grants do not have to be paid back and no interest accrues on them. They are, essentially, free money for your college experience. Federal Grant money is, however, limited and resources can run out quickly. For this reason, it is important to understand what types of grants are available and what you need to know to receive them. There are several federal funded grants available for individuals looking to fund their college experiences and to understand them is to understand how better to fund your college experience without the weight of loans.

The Pell grant
One of the most popular Federal Grants for college is known as the federal Pell grant. The Pell grant is given to undergraduate students in a degree seeking program who is in financial need. This individual must be a U.S. citizen or a qualifying non-citizen to receive the award as well. Further, only qualifying institutions are able to award students this grant. It is important, then, to check with the higher education facility you are wishing to attend for more details.

The Federal
The Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant Program is another meant to provide Federal aid in the form of grants. This grant is given to those individuals who have an EFC score of zero. The EFC score refers to the estimated family contribution that the student is expected to have. This, then, is a measure of how much money you have to spend on school. If your incoming and outgoing monies are equal, this, then, would give you an EFC score of roughly zero. Such scores are determined by the Department of Education.

Federal Grant Program
Though not necessarily a traditional grant, monies may be available for students who work for it, literally. Money that comes in this form is attached to what is known as the federal work study program. It is essentially a grant given to students for a set amount of money. However, students must work to achieve it. There is a limited amount of funds available to each student, and the cap on income is there. Simply a student must work on campus or in a position around the campus in order to achieve these monies.

Merit-Based Grants
Concerning Federal Grants for college, merit-based grants are those that do not rely solely on financial need. Rather, coupled with this concern for finances is the component of performance. These grants are often given to individual students who need money but are also excelling or have excelled in school. Most of these grants are given at the state level, however, there are some Federal Grants that are merit-based as well. Further, these grants can vary in name and criteria. For this reason, you need to speak with your college of attendance to see which and what ones are available to you.

Filling Out The FAFSA
The only way to receive any federal aid or grants is to fill out what is known as the Federal Application for student aid, or FAFSA. This document is free to fill out and can be found on the government website www.fafsa.ed.gov. Using tax and financial information, this document assesses your financial need for college. This data is then processed by the Department of Education and used to decide what type of aid you are eligible to receive. Federal Grants for college is determined in this way as well.

Now, Go For Those Grants!
Federal Grants for college are a great way to pay for an extremely expensive educational endeavor. They are free, as aforementioned, and do not have to be returned in anyway. There are, however, limits to how much money you may receive and how much is available for students. It is important, then, to fill out your FAFSA early and make sure to renew it annually. This will increase your chances of receiving a grant to help pay for your college experience.

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