Apply for Government Grants for College
It’s no secret that college is quite an expense. Even families that consider themselves “well off” financially still find affording the cost of a higher education for their children a challenge. This is where financial aid comes into play. Available in a variety of forms, this allows students the opportunity to acquire the funds needed to pay for any school-related expenses. Government grants in particular are ideal for not only having the financial means to pay for college, it is a form of financial aid that does not have to be paid back.
What are Government Grants?
As the name suggests, government grants are free money given by the federal or state government, to either individuals or businesses in order to assist them in their goals. While there are numerous types of grants up for grabs, there are specific ones that target college bound students. Like other financial aid, there is an application process that must be followed in order to be considered. Because there are so many different people applying for these types of funds, submitting an application alone is not a guarantee that a student will be awarded the money. It is for that reason, among others, that each submission for a government grant be prepared properly according to the instructions.
Out of the government grants available to students, the Pell Grant, SMART Grant and AC Grant are among the three most popular.
The Pell Grant
The Pell Grant has been around since 1972 and was designed to award funds to students who come from financially disadvantaged backgrounds—specifically, those from low-income families. The factors used to determine if a student is eligible to receive this form of financial aid includes but is not limited to: total cost needed to attend the college or university of his/her choice, financial need, enrollment status (part-time vs. full-time) and how long the student plans on attending that particular school. To date, the maximum amount a student can receive through this grant is approximately $5,500.
The SMART Grant
The National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant, also known as the SMART Grant, gives free money to college juniors and seniors planning on studying any of the following fields: math, computer science, engineering or the sciences in general. To be considered for the SMART grant, applicants must meet the income requirements as set by the Pell Grant, in addition to other requirements.
The AC Grant
Short for the “Academic Competitiveness Grant,” the AC Grant focuses on awarding funds to students who demonstrate proficiency in their studies and maintain excellent track records when it comes to their grades. However, the AC Grant is only open to college freshman and sophomores. In addition to having a great academic record, students applying for this grant should also display leadership skills and a commitment to community service. There are also income requirements a student needs to qualify for via the Pell Grant in order to be eligible for the AC Grant.
If you haven’t thought about applying for college grants, there is no time like the present to take action, especially if you plan on attending college soon or are already enrolled. Needless to say, financial aid in general provides many benefits but receiving government grants gives students even more of an advantage. As stated previously, these types of grants are not loans, therefore they do not have to be paid back. This means any funds received can be used for just about anything: books, tuition, rent, groceries, school supplies, fees, etc.
Another benefit is the fact that students are allowed to submit for multiple grants. If planned just right, an individual could get lucky enough to have their school expenses covered for an entire year or more. Being awarded just a handful of grant money eases the burden many families feel when it comes to putting their child/children through college.
Just as there is no limit to the number of government grants students can apply for, there is also no shortage of grants to submit to. In addition to federal and state grants, other organizations and individuals have their own funds available to students. There are grants which determine eligibility based on gender, ethnicity, religion, special interests, etc. This makes it possible for almost anyone to find at least one grant that they have a good shot at being awarded.
Applying for Government Grants
Because grants for college have been around for a long time, it is not difficult to find information on how to apply. A basic online search will turn up a list of websites that are dedicated to publishing the most current information about which grants are available and how to apply. There are links to electronic forms, which can be filled out and submitted online or printed out and mailed. Even individuals that do not consider themselves very “tech savvy,” have access to detailed instructions for completing each application, as well as contact info in case they have questions or concerns.
It is ideal to first find a list of grants and then narrow it down to the specific ones you know you are eligible for. Afterwards, sort out the requirements for each and work on putting together one submission at a time. Don’t forget to be mindful of the deadlines and double check that all of the necessary paperwork and documentation has been included. Some online government grant sites even allow students to track the status of their application to find out if it has been accepted. These sites also have an FAQ section and additional resources to ensure that each applicant is fully informed as to what they can expect when applying for government grants.
Putting forth the effort into researching this subject is a great way to properly prepare college bound students and their families for the financial obligations college will require in the coming years. The sooner a student takes action, the sooner they can decide what their options are and begin budgeting accordingly.