How To Get Grants For Living Expenses While In College
Tuition is not the only cost of going to college. Finding ways to cover your living expenses is crucial. This article will help you begin to understand this other expense.
If you thought you could only get free money to pay for tuition and books, think again.
Grants are awards for free money to use for college-related expenses. Aside from paying for courses, fees, and school costs, you can use grants for other things, including living expenses. Whether youre on campus or off, heres how to find grants to pay for school and living expenses.
Fill Out The Application
The grant-making organization should have an application on its website. You may have to print it out and mail it, or you might be able to fill it out online.
Each grant will require different information. Some info you may be asked for includes:
- The name of your university and proof of graduation
- Proof of employmenta pay stub or letter from an employer
- Proof of residencesuch as a utility bill with your name on it
- Legal identificationa drivers license or passport
- Information on all the loans youre applying to get forgiven
Some organizations will ask you to write an essay about why youre applying and the work you do, include recommendation letters, or include a resumedepending on the type of grant.
Consider Grants From Your School
While the FAFSA is the mainstream gateway to financial aid, it is not your only option. You can also fill out a CSS profile to get access to grants as well scholarships for your college education.
Unlike FAFSA, the CSS profile is a slightly more in-depth option that costs $25 for your application and $16 for each school. If there is a school you feel is way out of your league, this may be worth it.
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What Are The Differences Between Grants And Scholarships
Both scholarships and grants are forms of gift aid. This means, it is money you can use for college that you do not need to earn or repay. Either a grant or a scholarship may help you answer the question how can I pay for college without going into debt? But the terms are not interchangeable.
Grants are usually awarded based on student financial needs. Popular grants that college students apply for are available through:
- Federal government
- State/local governments
- Colleges, universities, career schools
Scholarships are usually awarded based on student merit like academic, athletic or artistic talents. Many scholarships are available through:
- Private or community foundations
- Nonprofit and for profit corporations.
Teacher Education Assistance For College And Higher Education Grants
The final federal grant program that youll likely come across is the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant.
TEACH Grants are financial awards designed specifically for trainee teachers but unlike the other grant types, TEACH Grants have a few more rules attached to them.
First and foremost, to get a TEACH Grant, you need to meet certain academic requirements. That means either scoring above the 75th percentile on at least one part of a college admissions test or maintaining a cumulative grade point average of 3.25 or above.
The TEACH Grant Program offers education students grants of up to $4,000 per year. That being said, this cap has dropped slightly in recent years thanks to the Budget Control Act of 2011 .
This law dictated that TEACH Grants disbursed between October 2021 and October 2022 be reduced by 5.7% less than the maximum amount for which the student was originally eligible. Just like the other grants weve already covered, the exact amount youll qualify for depends on your academic performance, financial need, and a number of other factors.
To qualify for a TEACH Grant, youre required to finish four years of teaching after graduating from college. That teaching can be done in an elementary school, a secondary school, or with an education agency focusing on teaching students in a low-income area.
What happens if you dont complete four years of professional teaching within eight years?
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Grants For Military Students And Families
One of the most significant sources of grants for college is the United States Armed Forces. Education grants from the military help enlisted service-members, their spouses and their dependent children, find the resources they need to pay for college. Each branch of the military, including the army, navy, air force and marines, provides financial aid programs to benefit their service-members. Military sponsored grants are also offered to the children and spouses of service-members who have been killed, or disabled, in the line of duty.
While military sponsored grant programs offer valuable financial assistance, it should be noted that they are only available to enlisted members of the armed services. Serving ones country in a military capacity is a noble and honorable choice, but it should not be made lightly. Students considering military sponsored financial aid for college should be certain that they fully understand their obligations as enlisted personnel in the U.S. Armed Forces.
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.
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How Do Scholarships And Grants Affect Financial Aid
Your total financial aid cannot exceed the total cost of attending your college. Keep track of how much scholarship and grant money you win, since the total amount you win will be subtracted from the total amount needed for attending. Whatever amount is left can be filled in with federal financial aid you qualify for.
How Do You Find Grants For College
Graduating from high school and heading off to college is one of the most exciting times in a young persons life, but it also comes with a fair amount of anxiety as both parents and students worry about everything from newfound teen independence to paying for college expenses. Finding ways to fund your college education without graduating with a mountain of debt can take some creativity. Financial aid is an option for many students, but aid packages usually include student loans that must be paid back.
Grants and scholarships provide free money for college, making them much better financial aid alternatives. To maximize your grant potential, you have to know what you potentially qualify for and apply well in advance of the school year. Heres a look at what you need to know to find the best grants for college.
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The Difference Between Scholarships And Grants
Unlike student loans, you dont have to pay back grants or scholarships. Both scholarships and grants for college are free money options to help you pay for higher education.
People often confuse grants and scholarships or use the terms interchangeably because grants and scholarships share many similarities.
The biggest difference between college grants and scholarships is that grants for college are typically need-based, while scholarships may be need-based or merit-based. What does merit-based mean? It means the scholarship is awarded based on something you do, such as an ability, hobby or achievement.
Like grants, scholarships can also be awarded based on ethnicity, religion, or other background related criteria. Grants are considered free money for college that doesnt have to be paid back except under these rare circumstances.
How To Find Grants For Online College
While searching online, it helps to enter keywords like Adult Skills, Non-Traditional, or Continuing Education. Other scholarships will require reading of the description to identify them as non-traditional. For instance, many memorial grants are named after a person, but do not include other specifics in their title. You can also tailor your search based on personal characteristics. Here are some examples to filter your search by:
- Minority grants: Look up whether you qualify for ethnic minority grants, which offer assistance based on cultural heritage, or non-ethnic minority grants, which focus on students with disabilities.
- Grants for online college for single mothers: Raising children as a single parent presents a tremendous challenge for many, and as such, many grants are available to help alleviate the burden, which includes the cost of childcare.
- Grants for gender: In an effort to help recruit women into male-dominated fields such as STEM, many scholarships and grants are available for women.
S To Apply For College Grants
If you havent already, complete the FAFSA to apply for federal grants and other aid, including work-study programs and federal loans. Fill it out as soon as possible, because some schools award aid on a first-come, first-served basis.
Search for private grants and scholarships using the U.S. Department of Labor’s free scholarship search tool.
Review your financial aid award letter from each school you’re considering. Each letter will list the grants, scholarships, work-study programs and loans youre eligible for. Accept all the grants and scholarships youre offered before taking out any student loans.
About the author:Anna Helhoski is a writer and NerdWallet’s authority on student loans. Her work has appeared in The Associated Press, The New York Times, The Washington Post and USA Today. Read more
How To Use Grants For Living Expenses
Most grants, including those that come from federal, state, and local governments, are paid directly to the school up to twice a year: once in the fall and again for the spring semester. Any extra funds left over go back to the student.
If you live on campus, your grant money will go towards your total cost of room and board, whether you live in a dorm or an on-campus apartment. If youre living off-campus, youll get any extra money at the beginning of the semester through a refund which can be used for other expenses, including books, supplies, and if necessary, living expenses.
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Keep An Eye On Due Dates
Bear in mind that many grants are given out on a cycleand theres usually a deadline every year.
If you missed the deadline on a grant that looks like it would be a good fit, check when it will open again and set a calendar reminder to apply. Its best to do this early in the cycle, as many grants have limited funds and are first-come, first-served.
Want another way to reduce your student loan burden? Check out this refinancing tool to see how much you could save by refinancing.
Help For Students Based On Income
- First Generation Matching Grants provide assistance, based on financial need, to Florida high school graduates whose parents never earned a college degree and who are pursuing an undergraduate degree at a state college or university. Scholarship amounts vary and are determined by the college or university which matches state funding, dollar-for-dollar, with private donations.
- Florida Student Assistance Grants provide assistance, based on financial need, to students pursuing an undergraduate degree at a public or private, not-for-profit college or university in the state, or receive training at a career center operated by district school boards. The annual minimum grant is $200 and the annual maximum grant amount is set by the Legislature in the General Appropriation Act each year.
- Federal Pell Grants provide assistance, based on financial need, to students who are pursuing an undergraduate degree from a participating public or private, not-for-profit college or university.
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How Much Can You Get
The amount you can receive depends on several factors, including:
- your province or territory of residence
- your family income
- your tuition fees and living expenses
- if you have a disability
The amount you can receive in grants and loans is calculated when you apply with your province or territory.
To find out if you can receive Canada Student Grants or Loans, use the federal student aid estimator. Note that this estimator doesn’t take into account the provincial and territorial student grants and loans.
What Are The Four Types Of Federal Grants
Federal grants are issued by Federal Student Aid, which is part of the US Department of Education . Federal Student Aid offers several different grants that students can use to pay for their tuition and other expenses at four-year colleges, universities, community colleges, or career schools.
The four most common types of federal grants available are Federal Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants , Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants, and Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grants.
Each of these four grant types comes with its own unique set of eligibility criteria. To help you get started, lets talk about the primary differences between each type of federal grant.
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Learn How To Find Grants To Pay For College
Most students go for loans instead of grants because of the strange web of information and roller coaster ride of fulfilling the requirement.
But in reality, this is not the case you can have a college grant if you know what you are looking for and the right approach to get the money to pay your fee.
The process is not as painful as most students think the straightforward method starts from choosing the right option. First, you need to know about the different types of grants offered and their eligibility criteria. Then, once you find the most suitable grant, you must stick to the plan and apply with will and grit to get one for your future studies and career. The process of finding a grant for your college shall start from understanding the difference between a grant and a scholarship.
Grants For African American Students
African-American students will find a wide range of grants designed to help them pursue their dreams of a college education. For too long African-Americans were under-represented in the halls of academia. But with the help of publicly and privately funded grant programs, they are beginning to take their rightful place on college campuses across the country. Over the last decade, the number of African-Americans graduating with a four-year degree has risen sharply, and dedicated grant programs for African-American students are helping more and more students of color pursue their dreams of a higher education.
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Grants For Doctors Nurses And Other Healthcare Professionals
National Health Service Corps: This is one of the most commonly-known grant programs for people in the medical field, including doctors, dentists, and mental health professionals.
The deal is simple: sign up for two years of full-time work within a high-needs community, and get up to $50,000 off your student loans. Reimbursement for part-time work is also possible. See the funding levels here.
Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program: There are many state-based grants to pay off student loans for nurses this is the main one at the national level.
The program will pay off 60% of student loan debt for registered nurses who work at least two years in a critical shortage area. Those who opt to work an optional third year may receive an additional 25% in reimbursement.
IHS Loan Repayment Program: This program will repay up to $40,000 of your qualifying student loans if you sign up for two years of service in American Indian and Alaska Native communities.
If you choose to stay longer, you could keep renewing your contract until your entire physician student loan debt is paid.
Students-to-Service Loan Repayment Program: If youre in your final year of medical or dental school, you could earn up to $120,000 in student loan repayment by agreeing to work in an area with a shortage of medical professionals for three years after you graduate.See also: Student Loan Forgiveness for Doctors and Medical Professionals
When Grants And Scholarships Arent Enough
The gift aid offered by colleges you apply to might not cover all of your costs. In these situations, your financial aid award letter will also provide options for taking out student loans to pay for college.
Before taking on too much debt:
Find a student loan thats right for youIf grants dont cover your education costs, a private student loan could help fill the gap.
- Multiple lenders compete to get you the best rate
- Get actual rates, not estimated ones
- Finance almost any degree
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