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Earning a college degree could kick off your dream career, but it’s also expensive. Many students can’t afford college without financial aid. There are many types of financial assistance available in addition to scholarships if you need help attending college classes. Read on to learn everything you need to know about grants for college to learn about every option at your disposal.
What Are Grants For College
When people think about attending a university, they might imagine taking out a lifetime of student loans. Even small amounts can add up to years of repaying the interest alone. Although those are always a funding resource for community colleges and universities, you can also consider applying for grants.
Grants are specific allotments of money that pay for tuition, room and board, student fees and even education supplies. Students who receive this money usually don’t ever repay the lender. Fewer people consider them as options because most people talk about scholarships, but they’re available for many educational paths.
Are Grants Like Scholarships?
You might start to wonder about the difference between a grant and a scholarship. Scholarships are more widely available. In 2020, over 1.7 million private scholarships paid for students to access higher education. It’s why many high schools and college campuses have entire offices dedicated just to scholarship opportunities. Money received through a scholarship is always a gift — never a loan.
Grants are a bit different. They’re more limited and mostly don’t require recipients to pay back whatever amount they receive. There are some cases where repayment is required, but only in particular circumstances.
Ways to Use Grants For College
There are a few ways to use a potential grant to help you through your higher education experience. These are the specific settings where grants apply for tuition, boarding and supplies.
Grants most often pay for university courses. Undergraduates use them to achieve their Bachelor’s degrees and some avoid graduate school debt by using grants for their Master’s degree. They’re incredibly helpful if students plan to live on-campus during the semester or throughout the year since room and board are sometimes more costly than tuition.
Community College Grants
If you plan to attend a community college, you can also find grants that work with smaller campuses. Some will cover standard fees, while others make community college student organizations possible by funding clubs and volunteer opportunities. Either way, your college experience will be much more fulfilling.
Career School Grants
Career school classes are often ways high school graduates prepare for immediate entry into the workforce without getting a two or four-year degree. Grants can cover the costs for these classes as well. You’ll be free to use your academic breaks to bolster your resume after high school and be a highly competitive applicant when you’re ready to start your career.
Types of College Grants
Now that you know where you can use a grant to achieve higher education, you should learn about the four different types of grants. See which versions are most applicable to your circumstances to decide which applications will most likely receive approval.
Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)
Undergraduate students can apply for the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) if they have exceptional financial needs that would otherwise keep them from attending college. An approved federal application could award a single student with anywhere from $100-4,000 in gifted funds.
Pell Grants are also available for undergraduate students who can prove that they need financial assistance based on their current circumstances. The U.S. Department of Education pays for each grant.
Although the amount changes every year, the gifted funds are often higher than those in an FSEOG. For the 2021-2022 academic year, $6,495 was the maximum payment allowed for those most in need of help.
Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant (TEACH)
Suppose you’re a student working toward a teaching degree who qualifies for federal financial assistance and enroll in a TEACH-grant-approved program. In that case, you could receive up to $4,000 in financial aid. To get the money and not pay it back, you must teach for four years in a low-income school in a high-need role after graduation.
Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant (IASG)
Students who lost their parent or guardian to deployment in Afghanistan or Iraq after the events of 9/11 can apply for the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant (IASG). The federal government may provide up to $6,495 in funding according to the Budget Control Act of 2011. It depends on if an applicant qualifies through their FAFSA application and life circumstances.
Do Grants Need to Be Paid Back?
There are various requirements to keep your grant money and avoid paying any back after graduation. What you need to do will depend on your school, program and which grant you receive. The requirements may include:
- Maintaining a specific GPA
- Teaching in a low-income school for four years
- Staying within the program the grant pays for
- Remaining a full-time or part-time student, depending on the enrollment status of your grant application
- Not applying for outside funding that reduces your need for financial assistance
Breaking the requirements will result in a notification from your school. You’ll likely get a 45-day notice to pay the grant back in full. Anyone who can’t afford that can arrange a repayment plan with the school or grant lender.
Sometimes the grant will convert into a Direct Unsubsidized Loan (DUL). Those payments will accrue interest and go directly to the U.S. Department of Education. In either of these cases, breaking the grant requirements will make any student ineligible for further financial aid.
How to Pay a Grant Back
Paying a grant back happens in rare circumstances, so you’ll have to investigate the directions given to you by your grant lender. They may require a payment in full or arrange monthly payments to a specific department within their institution.
How to Qualify For Grants
You’ll only receive a grant if your financial situation requires it. They’re need-based, so you’ll have to fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. It considers each applicant’s income, family income and family tax returns. As long as you submit your form before the deadline, you may qualify.
When Should You Apply For Grants?
It’s crucial to apply for grants as soon as possible. Each will have a deadline, but grant lenders accept applicants on a first-come, first-served basis. Find the deadline at least a few weeks in advance to boost your chances of achieving grant funding.
High school students should also start their grant research early. Some deadlines require submission a year before the university’s fall semester begins. Talk with a scholarship or grant advisor to help you investigate every option and make a list of deadlines to ensure that you start applying as soon as applications open.
Research Your Educational Financing Options
Now that you’ve read everything you need to know about grants for college, research which grants would work for your degree or career dreams. You’ll find the best available funding for your future without taking on loans that require a lifetime to repay.