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How Grants Work For College

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How College Scholarships Work | Scholarships & Grants Explained

One of the most misunderstood things about grants for online college is that the probability of winning one is so small that it isnt worth the effort to apply. In reality, it is this belief that leads to a large number of grants being unclaimed every year. In spite of the rising cost of college, millions and millions of award dollars go untouched. Nearly $3 billion in federal grant money went unclaimed in the 2014 academic year, according to a higher education study.

What Is A Scholarship

For colleges and universities, scholarships are financial aid awards designed to help students pay for an undergraduate degree. Sometimes a scholarship is a one-time check. Other school scholarships are renewable and provide money for students each semester or school year. These awards differ from student loans in that they dont have to be repaid.

Students might receive the money directly as a check in their name. In other cases, the money is given to the students school. In these cases, the student would then pay the school for the difference on any money owed for tuition, fees, room and board. If the scholarships and other forms of financial aid are enough to cover the direct college costs, the excess money is refunded to the student.

What Is A Grant For College

Grants for college are a form of financial aid that does not usually get repaid. They cover a variety of education-related expenses, such as tuition and fees, room and board, and books and supplies.

Grants along with scholarships are often called gift aid, or free money for college, but they are not the same. Scholarships are awarded for merit or talents, while grants tend to be given out based on financial need, although sometimes merit can come into play.

When it comes defining that need, the best thing to do is to take a closer look at the types of grants available.

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Where Can You Get Grants For College

There are a few major sources of grants for college students. Because theres no standardized application, protocol, or eligibility criteria for all grants available to college students, things can seem a bit complicated at first.

Not to worry, though – things arent as complicated if youre able to break down grants by funding source. Here are the most important places to find grant funding, along with basic eligibility criteria for each funding source.

  • Federal Government – Eligibility requirements for federal grants are laid out in our Pell Grant guide. Overall, the requirements are pretty lax – the major ones are that you need a high school diploma or GED, and you need to be enrolled in a college or career school.
  • State Government – Eligibility requirements for state-based grants will, unsurprisingly, vary by state. At the very least you should meet all federal requirements in addition to being a state resident. Get more detailed information about state financial aid programs.
  • Your School – In the context of this post, Im defining a grant as an award thats strictly need-based. Schools may award grants or scholarships that are based on financial need, not merit, to students who have been accepted and need help paying the full Cost of Attendance. Eligibility reqs will vary by school, but some schools tend to be more generous than others.

Federal sources should be your first consideration when you start looking into grant opportunities.

Grants For Online College: How To Get Paid To Go To School


College costs are rising, whether for distance learning or traditional campus study and grants for online college exist just like they do for traditional on-campus education. But, did you know there are specific classes of grants just for online students? These grants are best way to cut the cost of your online degree. Read on for expert tips on how to get awarded free money and potentially even get paid to go to school.

An online college grant is a one-time award of money, based on merit or financial need. Unlike online student loans, grants represent free money that never needs to be paid back.

Grants are the best type of financial aid for both residential and online students. Grants are essentially free money to study online.

You can get free grants from the federal government, state government, your college, and a variety of private sources, such as trade and professional associations.

The online education experts at GetEducated outline some of the most popular federal college grant optionsavailable to online education students as well as campus students. Use this list to explore the best free money grant programs available from the government and private sources to boost your online school financial aid portfolio.

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Types Of College Grants

The first step in applying to grants for college is understanding the different types. There are grants to help cover financial need or specific to demographics, major or location. Federal and state governments as well as schools and private institutions all have different kinds of grants for college students.

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Turns Out There Are A Few Differences Between A Federal Student Loan And A Private Loan:

  • Most federal loans dont require a credit check.

  • Federal loans often have low, fixed interest rates,which vary based on the first disbursement date of the loan. The interest rate for Direct Subsidized Loans, Direct Unsubsidized Loans, and Direct PLUS Loans for undergraduate borrowers first disbursed on or after July 1, 2020, and before July 1, 2021, is 2.75%

  • Federal loans are tax-deductible.

  • Federal loans can also be deferredmost commonly, students will defer their loans for up to 6 months after they graduate .

  • Lastly, federal loans are eligible for loan forgiveness in some special cases.

While this list may make federal student loans look nicer than what Mr. Local Banker Man would has to offer, it should be noted that student loans are still debt. Taking out a student loan means spending money you dont have and that you will have to pay back… with interest.

Taking out a multi-thousand dollar loan at 18, with no career or even the guarantee of a good job once you graduate? Thats a financial gamble. For better or worse, it will impact your life long after college.

Given that, lets talk about the different kinds of federal student loans you could apply for and the impact they can have on your financial future.

Federal Grants And The Fafsa

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To apply for a federal grant, students need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid . The FAFSA helps administrators assess students’ financial need and eligibility. Students will need to divulge many facts about themselves, including:

  • One parent’s date of birth and social security number
  • Any drug convictions
  • The family’s latest income tax return
  • Family income estimation

The federal government expects the applicant’s family to contribute to educational costs, too. The common term for this is the Expected Family Contribution . Most federal grants are meant for students who have a greater financial need and might otherwise not be able to afford to go to school. As a result, a student from a family making income above the cutoff isn’t eligible no matter what that student’s academic performance might be.

The Federal Pell Grant is one of the better-known grants available to students in the United States. Undergraduate students from low-income families are eligible for the Pell Grant as long as the student doesn’t already have a bachelor’s degree. In 2010, the maximum amount the government could grant a student under the Pell Grant was $5,500 . Congress determines the maximum payment — the amount can change over time.

In all cases, federal grants come from a limited pool of resources. Once that money is gone, even an eligible student won’t be able to secure a grant until Congress replenishes the grant budget.

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Grants From Your College

Most colleges, especially private colleges, award grants out of their own funds. While financial need is the basic criteria for grants, colleges can adjust grant amounts based on the student’s academic qualifications or other factors. Check with your college to find out the application process, if any. The best way to qualify for the most generous college-based grants is to be the kind of student the college wants to enroll.

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Iowa National Guard Educational Assistance Grant

The Iowa National Guard Educational Assistance Grant provides awards to Iowa National Guard members who satisfactorily complete required Guard training and maintain satisfactory performance of Guard duty. Students must be pursuing a certificate or degree. This grant is not available for the summer semester.

To apply, students must complete a FAFSA by March 1 and the Iowa Financial Aid Application

Grants By Degree Level

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To determine your financial eligibility, fill out a . Although most grants are awarded to undergraduates, graduate grants are available and very generous. Graduate grants will often fund your education and pay for career advancement opportunities such as internships and research positions. If you are employed and plan to return to school, check with your employer about scholarship and grant opportunities. Private companies often fund employees who are looking to get a masters, and may offer an increase in pay after the degree is attained. If you plan to utilize your employers financial aid, anticipate working for that company post-graduation.

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Summary: How Grants Can Help You

Grants – which are available from all sorts of sources – are a great way to make college more affordable, especially if your family is relatively low-income .

To optimize the amount of grant money you receive, you should check out funding from federal, state, institutional, and private sources. This may mean that you juggle several deadlines and applications, but I promise that if you do your due diligence ahead of time, the money you save will prove worth it in the long run.

Applying For State Grants For College

Unfortunately, the following three states dont currently have active, publicly-funded grant programs:

  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • Utah

Thats not to say these states dont offer resources. Nevada, for example, helps parents save up for their younger childrens college costs by providing matching funds through the Silver State Matching Grant.

But wherever you live, review your states aid options. For full details, you could click on the DOEs map of contact information for each states department of education. You might also go directly to your school. If you are looking for Texas grants for college and are enrolled at Texas State University, for example, youd find the financial aid offices listing of available grants.

Applying for state grants for college is an essential step in paying for your education and it just might save you the trouble of taking out student loans.

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Who Can Get Grants For College

The number of students attending 4 year colleges and receiving aid is on the rise. At last count, the federal government awarded $30 billion dollars in need based grants. Recent figures show that 63.3% of college undergraduates receive grants. The average amount of grant money received by a college student is $7,400.

Eligibility to receive a grant for college varies. But to qualify for federal student aid one needs to meet a few basic requirements below:

  • Show financial need
  • Be a U.S. citizen or legal resident
  • Have a valid Social Security number
  • Be registered with Selective Service
  • Be enrolled or accepted for enrollment as a regular student in an eligible degree or certificate program
  • Maintain satisfactory academic progress in college or career school
  • Sign the FAFSA, committing to the terms
  • Show you are qualified to obtain a college or career school education

Proper Research Will Lead You To The Grants You Need

Overview of the Financial Aid Process

Finding the right grant programs to help pay for college takes time, research and diligence. You can begin by talking to your high school advisers and teachers, and then continue your investigations on your own. At this point the internet will be a primary tool in your search for education grants, as will your local libraries.

Any successful grant search begins with knowing yourself, your status as a student and your academic interests. This will help you narrow your focus, and will allow you to eliminate those grant programs for which you are not eligible. Remember, there are need-based grants, merit-based grants and career specific grants, and the first step is understanding the type of program youre looking for. For example, if you are an Hispanic woman going to college to become an accountant, you will want to search for grant programs that are dedicated to Latin-American female students enrolled in business and accounting studies.

Begin your grant search early, to allow yourself plenty of time to find, and apply to, the various grant programs for which you may be eligible. As you begin to search for possible education grants, you will find that they come in all shapes and sizes. You will also find that many grant programs may be found in the most unlikely of places. Look deeply, leave no stone unturned, and you may find the necessary education grants that will help meet your college costs.

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    Getting More Than Grants

    Because the government funding used to pay the federal grants is limited, usually the amount of grants a student receives does not pay for the entire cost of tuition and fees and other college costs. A first-year college student usually does not receive as much grant aid as they do in later years of enrollment in college. Federal grants are based upon financial need which is calculated by the federal aid program.

    When you apply for a federal grant, a needs analysis is completed by the government or the college to determine the expected contribution of the student and that of the students parents. This expected contribution amount affects the amount of federal grants that are available or awarded to the student. The amount of pell grant a college student could receive ranges from $609 to $5,550 per student for the 2010-11 financial aid award year. The amount of pell grant each college student is awarded varies and is based upon the students financial need.

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    Using Grant Money For Living Expenses

    Grant money is either paid directly to the student or to the school. If you have a federal grant, for example, money is often paid directly to the school. They will then apply it toward your tuition and fees, as well as your room and board if you live on campus. Any excess money will be disbursed directly to you to use on books, supplies, rent, and other living expenses.

    Grants are typically disbursed to the school in two payments per academic year and then paid out to you at least once per term. Federal student aid programs require that you have access to funds within the first week of the start of each term, so you can buy books and course materials.

    If your grant is a specific housing allowance or housing grant, you will need to apply that directly to your room and board costs. Much of the time, grants for college expenses are flexible: As the student, you can put them toward what you need to live while attending school.

    When going to college, you have two options for housing: on and off campus. On-campus housing is usually in the form of a dorm. In this case, the school is typically the landlord. Grants that are disbursed directly to your school will be used to pay the costs of room and board directly. If you live off campus, you may need to use excess grant money that is disbursed to you directly to pay for your living expenses.

    Indiana National Guard Supplemental Grant

    Scholarship &  Grant Opportunities for College Students

    Description: State grant for eligible members of the Indiana Air and Army National Guard

    Eligibility: Certified by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education and the Indiana National Guard

    Contact: Indiana Commission for Higher Education, 101 West Ohio Street, Suite 300, Indianapolis, IN 46204-4206, 888.528.4719,

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    How To Find A State Grant

    Many states offer college grant programs for state residents. This tool on the Department of Educations website can help you find the agency that distributes each states grants. To be eligible for grants, most states require that you fill out the FAFSA. Some including Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York have a separate grant application in addition to the FAFSA.

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