Are you looking to pursue a college degree? If you are worried about the financial burden of going back to school, there are options out there for financial assistance. Grants are essentially free money to help you in your education and awarded based on financial need or assistance in paying for college. Here are some tips about how to find grants for college.
With the cost of a college education is expected to continue to rise, more students are looking for financial assistance. College grants include unrestricted use of funds, and unlike student loans, there is no repayment obligation. When searching for financial help while in college, you can get free grants from your school, state, or federal government, as well as other private sources such as professional associations and ones specifically for military spouses. Knowing where to find financial help and how to find grants for military spouses is the first step for students who want to pursue their dreams of higher education.
Tips to Find Grants For College
The following are some tips about how to find grants for college;
1. Find Grants from Your School:
Did you know that FAFSA isn’t your only option when it comes to financial aid? You can fill out the CSS profile to get access to grants (as well as scholarships) to help you pay for your college education. A CSS profile is a good way to see if a school you thought were too expensive might be able to give you more aid than other schools.
For those who are attending graduate school to get their Master’s degree, you have more options for grants. You can look at your college and professional organizations in your field of study to find school grants.
2. State or Federal Grants:
Federal grants are awarded by the federal government and are free to students. mostly called “gift aid” because they are free money and don’t need to be repaid. Grants are need-based
Federal grants include:
- Federal Pell Grant:
The grant is administered by the United States Department of Education, which determines a student’s eligibility for the grant. Federal Pell Grants are available to students who need financial help, have no earned their bachelor’s or are enrolled in specific post-baccalaureate programs.
- Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant:
This first-come, the first-served grant is given to undergraduate students with financial need. However, not every college participates. The grant gives between $100 and $4,000 per year depending on the student’s financial aid need.
- Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant:
If you are an undergraduate, post-baccalaureate, and graduate student and want to pursue a career in education and you’re also willing to work in a high-need school for at least four years, you should look into this grant. The grant program provides up to $4,000 per year for students who will teach in a school that provides services to low-income students.
- Academic Competitiveness Grant:
Merit and needs-based grant for college freshman and sophomores. These grants are reserved for college students with the greatest need for financial aid to attend college. The program provides up to $750 in the first year and $1,300 for the second year of study.
- National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent (SMART), Grant:
This grant program is given to juniors and seniors based on merit as well as financial need. Students must major in one of these eligible degree programs; Science (including Computer Science, Physical and Life Sciences), Engineering, Technology, Mathematics, Liberal Arts and Sciences, Critical foreign language studies, and specific natural resource conservation and multidisciplinary programs.
After you have looked into federal grant options, you should consider contacting one of the state grant agencies provided by the Department of Education. Each state offers a list of grants you can apply for.
3. Options for Other Special Grants:
You can find grants that are dedicated to women, minorities, international students, etc. These grants are often overlooked, so it is important to look into them before applying to college.
- International Students:
If you are an international student, there are grants for you, although they are typically lower than programs for domestic students.
- Military Spouses:
For military spouses, there are options to help financially if you are interested in going back to school. For example, the Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts (MyCAA) program will assist a military spouse by giving them up to $4,000 in assistance for the military to pursue a degree, license or credentials for employment
Another program for military spouses is the NMCRS Education Assistance Program. This financial assistance program offers interest-free loans and grants for college or vocational/tech schools in the United States for spouses of active duty or retired sailors and marines.
There are more than $300 million in financial assistance programs and grants for military spouses who want to further their education.
Women’s grants are for female students from all backgrounds who want to pursue their education and careers that historically have not been available to women. Many organizations have taken extra steps to support women to have equal opportunities in education as well as their career development.
☛ A few examples of grants that support this mission include:
- Soroptimist Live Your Dream Award:
- This grant is for women with financial need who are providing support for their families.
- The Education Support Award from the Patsy Takemoto Mink Education Foundation
- Financial help is awarded to low-income mothers who want to get a degree or enroll in vocational training.
- The P.E.O. Program for Continuing Education (PCE)
- For women whose education as interrupted and want to continue with their educational pursuit.
☛ Final Note:
When grants aren’t enough to help cover the cost of your college tuition, then you should look into scholarships. While grants are generally given based on financial need, scholarships are awarded based on merit, including athletic, academic, or artistic. Scholarships are awarded through a wide range of institutions, including college universities, foundations, or community organizations. There are also programs out there to award money based on your uniqueness.