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Grants are essentially free money from the federal government you do not have to pay back. It is an important part of the financial aid process to help relieve the amount of money college and university students have to pay back at the end of their degree programs. Grants are typically limited in the number of people who will be awarded. While the government is the most common source of grants, you can find grants from other sources too, such as businesses and non-profit organizations. Keep in mind that grants are different from scholarships.

You do not have to pay scholarships back either. However, scholarships often come with fewer restrictions. Grants are typically awarded to individuals based on a specific aspect of their life, such as financial need or military service. You will also be required to meet stipulations, such as a minimum GPA, to ensure the renewal of your grant money. Many scholarships are awarded in small sums as a one-time offer. These can be based on a number of factors, such as age, gender, county, minority status, education discipline, and other identifying characteristics and interests. Grants are another way to help students lower the cost of their education.

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Applications to Submit

    The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is an essential part of the grant process. Each student who wishes to apply for financial aid must complete a FAFSA form. This will determine the type of aid for which you qualify and whether or not you are eligible for specific grants. You might also be required to submit a FAFSA form to apply for some scholarships to prove your financial need. It is highly important to apply for financial aid as early as possible because grant funding is limited each year.

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  • CSS Profile
    A College Scholarship Service (CSS) Profile can be completed along with the FAFSA form to qualify for student aid. The CSS Profile differs in a few ways. It is accessible by the College Board in the US. This allows your profile to be viewed by colleges and universities so that you can become eligible for their financial support. They may have grants and scholarships for which you qualify in addition to federal government assistance. At least 400 colleges and universities require this profile to be completed with the FAFSA form. It is a bit time consuming; however, it could save you thousands of dollars in the end.

Types of Grants

  • Pell Grant

    A Pell Grant is one of the most common federal grants for which college and university student can become eligible. To qualify, students must be an undergraduate student who has never received a degree, including a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, or doctoral degree. You will also have to verify that you are in “exceptional financial need,” according to the government website. Some people who are enrolled in a post-baccalaureate certificate program may qualify.

  • Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants

    Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants (FSEOG) are administered and distributed by the office of financial aid at the college or university of your choice. It is important to note that some schools do not participate in the FSEOG program. The FSEOG is awarded to students who have the most financial need. Recipients will be awarded anywhere between $100 and $4,000. If you become a recipient, you do not have to pay this money back.

  • TEACH Grants

    TEACH Grants are different to other types of grants in that you must take specific education courses and accept a position in a specific field of education, or the grant will be turned into a loan. You could be eligible to receive up to $4,000. Recipients can be enrolled as an undergraduate, post-baccalaureate, or graduate degree student. During your studies, you must maintain a 3.25 GPA. If you do not maintain the requirements of this grant, it will be converted into a loan that you must repay.

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  • Military Service Grants

    A wide variety of military service grants are available for student aid. Eligible applicants are those who are enlisted and their children and some other family members. Veterans also qualify. Some grants will be based on your financial need; whereas, other grants will be awarded to those who already qualify for the GI Bill. Some grants are dedicated to veterans and active military personnel from specific conflicts. You can receive anywhere from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars that you do not have to pay back.

  • Grants for Suffers of Illness

    If you suffer from an illness, you may qualify for a grant. While not all diseases and illnesses will make you eligible for a grant, a wide variety of them do, such as Multiple Sclerosis, substance abuse, mental illness, cancer, and Crohn's Disease. It is also possible to be awarded a grant or scholarship if one of your parents had a disease or illness the same as or similar to those previously mentioned.

  • Grants for Women

    To be eligible for grants as a woman, you typically have to be in pursuit of a specific degree or coursework such as STEM majors, business, healthcare, etc. You can find grants for every level of education: undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate. It’s also a good idea to look for grants specifically for women and women who are considered a part of a minority group. Most grants for women include anyone who identifies as a woman and women entrepreneurs can also find grants to start their own business or to support growth within their existing business.

  • Grants for Graduate School

    When you decide to return to school for a graduate degree in any field, you’ll need to think about how you’re going to fund your continued education. A university education at any level isn’t cheap. Once you get to the graduate level, some specific grants won’t be available for you to use; the Pell Grant was designed only for undergraduates. There are grants for graduate students available that you can apply for and take advantage of.

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Additional Resources

  • Go Girl! Grants

    The Girlfriend Factory offers a number of student aid grants to women who are working to better their lives. Applicants must be at least 25 years old, have a passion for a career, and be in financial need. Awards are given twice a year. Eligible applicants will be required to submit references, write an autobiography, and interview with the grant committee.

  • Health Resources and Services Administration

    The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) funds a number of nursing programs across the country in the form of both grants and scholarships. You must be enrolled in one of these recognized nursing programs to qualify and each grant will have a unique set of requirements each applicant must meet to fund part of their nursing education. Most of these programs are specialized fields of nursing, such as nurse practitioner and nurse anesthetist.