Also Read: 5 Financial Tips for College Students on a Budget
Types of grantsMost grants are available through the federal government and are based on need or a specific situation. A form must be filled out to determine eligibility.
*Pell Grant – Considered the financial foundation of the federal student aid program, the Pell Grant is usually awarded to undergraduate students who have not yet earned a bachelor’s or professional degree. For 2011-12, the maximum award amount is $5,500, though how much is given will depend on student status, financial need and costs to attend school. The college can apply a Pell Grant to school costs, directly to the student or a combination of both.
*Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) – This program is for undergraduate students who exhibit exceptional financial need. Those who have received Pell Grants and have the lowest expected family contribution will be considered first for a FSEOG. Award amounts can range from $100 to $4,000 a year, depending on when the application is made, financial need and policies at the college being attended. If eligible, the school will credit the student’s account or pay them directly, or some combination.
*Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant – Students with a parent or guardian who died during service to the military during tours in Iraq or Afghanistan after Sept. 11, 2001, may be eligible for this grant. Other requirements include not being eligible for a Pell Grant, being less than 24 years old and enrolled in college at least part time at the time of the parent or guardian’s death. The maximum amount awarded would be the same as is available through the Pell Grant for a year.
*TEACH Grant Program – The Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant Program provides up to $4,000 per year to students who plan on teaching in a public or private elementary or secondary school that serves students from low-income families. There are other requirements to be eligible for the TEACH Grant but it also helps to plan on teaching in a high-need field such as mathematics, foreign language, special education or science.
Grants are better than loans because they don’t have to be paid back after graduation and so don’t add to the student’s debt. Information on grants and application forms can be found online or by talking with the student’s high school guidance counselor. There’s no harm in applying and they can make a great contribution to any financial aid package.
This guest post has been contributed by Christina Lloyd, who writes for a site that offers advice on grants for college students. She believes it’s worth researching the options fully, as a free grant can make a significant difference to the cost of a college education.