Grant Money for College
When it comes to paying for a college education, the biggest source of direct student aid is grant money for college. After all, the best money is free money, and while loans and scholarships make up more than 50% of student aid, grant money for college are widely preferred because you don’t have to pay the money back.
The qualifications for grant money for college, however, can be very strict. Unlike in loans and scholarships where money may be awarded based on your credit standing or merit, grant money for college is usually based largely on need.
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid Program under the Department of Education even has a specially designed formula to determine whether or not the student is in dire need of financial assistance from the Federal Government for his education. Grants aren’t just given to anybody; you will have to prove that you or your parents do not have the means to support you in college.
In addition to the economic restrictions, grant money for college is often parceled out on a first-come, first-serve basis. Government funds are limited and you certainly cannot expect government to fund every student in need that comes their way. So late applicants will have a lesser chance of winning a grant from government since all the money reserved for student aid would have been given to earlier applicants. That’s why it’s very important to apply early for financial aid and be aware of any available grants that might help lower your overall college contribution.
Below are the basic types of grant money for college:
Federal Pell Grants
Considered as the largest grant money for college program, Pell grants ranged from $400 to $4,050 for the 2004-2005 academic year. These grants are based solely on need. The entity who will determine the student’s need will be the college of choice but with the use of guidelines that have been previously approved by the Federal Government.
Eligible colleges receive a fixed amount of Pell money each year, and many students apply for a grant every school opening. The grant money runs out pretty fast and once it’s gone, it’s gone. So if you want to win a Pell grant for college, then apply for aid early.
Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants
The grant money for college you receive from one grant may not be enough to support all your expenses. That’s why the government is offering the Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant Program. This grant program is reserved for the neediest of students and may supplement your grant money for college with amounts ranging from $100 to $4,000. Like Pell grants, you may apply for this grant through your college’s financial aid office.
Most states have some kind of free money program, based on need, targeted to encourage study in certain areas, such as teaching or nursing. The State of California, for example, has 3,000 Cal Grants for future teachers. The grant comes with certain obligations, such as in the case of Cal Grants, the grant money for college must be repaid if the student doesn’t end up teaching in low-income area for at least one year for every $2,000 received.
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