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College grants are free money awarded to students based on need, merits, and educational pursuits. These are often different than scholarships in that they are usually needs-based more than they are based on previous educational achievement. Grants often do not require you to maintain a specific GPA and, in most instances, you don’t have to pay grants back unless you quit your program. Grants are also different from a fellowship. The difference of a fellowship is that fellowships are dedicated to graduate and post-graduate students who wish to continue their research without the burden of expenses.

It’s also important to note that grants are highly limited and ultra-competitive. If you would like to increase your chances of successfully receiving a grant, you should apply for as many as possible. You can use this money to pay for tuition, books, living expenses, and other expenses directly related to the success of your education. However, be sure to do your due diligence before you apply to avoid scams.

Learn How Grants Can Help You With College Tuition

Eligibility & Sources

To be eligible for grants, 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. Today, 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. While your GPA may not be as important as your financial need for a grant, it may be used during the selection process to help narrow down the competition. However, your experience and passion can often make up for lower grades.

If you are in search of grants to pay for college, most of these grants will be offered through federal or state funding. This funding is given directly to the school to distribute to students in various departments on a financial needs basis. Your higher learning institution should provide you with information about all of the grants you may qualify for at their college or university. These grants will be listed in your financial aid package. You will be responsible for applying for grants.

Keep in mind that you can find grants from alternative sources as well, including businesses, states, non-profit organizations and a special teaching grant. Many corporations offer incentive grants to help with research in their field, as well as using this as an effective practice for attracting top talent to their businesses upon graduation. And many non-profit organizations and foundations offer grant money to develop industries that help various communities, social issues, and the world in general. Do not forget to read the fine print; in some cases, grants come with a stipulation that you must work for the organization that provided you the financial charity for a limited time once you graduate.

Reasons to Look for Grant Money as a Woman

Most college students require at least some financial assistance. Perhaps the ultimate reason to look for grant money as a woman is to reduce your debt upon course completion or graduation. You don’t have to pay back grants in most cases and, the less debt you have upon graduation, the better your quality of life will be in the immediate future.

Several additional benefits to seeking out grant money include:

  • Prestige
  • Renewable funding
  • No repayment
  • Motivation and accountability
  • No-tax money
  • Lower student loan dependency

Types of Grants

You will find a variety of types of grants. Most people are already familiar with research grants; these are often dedicated to graduate and post-graduate students in science and technology. However, you can find grants for almost anything including program grants, federal grants, continuation grants, pass-through grants, and competitive grants. Most grants are considered competitive grants, which are also referred to as discretionary funding at the college and university level. This means that a person or persons will review all applications and select the recipients of their choosing. It’s a competition and they decide who they want to win, and funding is finite. To improve your chances, follow the guidelines as closely as possible and only apply to grants for which you qualify.

To determine if you are eligible for grants with the college or university you plan to attend, complete your FAFSA form before the deadline. This is a highly critical deadline to meet if you require financial aid. You will receive a financial aid offer from each school explaining the grants for which you are eligible and any other financial aid for which you might qualify, such as work study, student loans, and scholarships. Keep in mind that, in some circumstances, grant money is first come first serve. Be sure to submit applications as soon as possible so that you don’t miss out on an opportunity.

College Grants for Women

Grants specifically for women are highly limited and even more competitive than most. Don’t forget about the federal grants that are available for everyone and more freely distributed such as the Academic Competitiveness Grant, the Pell Grant, the Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant, and the National Science & Mathematics Access to Retain Talent (SMART) Grant. These grants are often awarded to students who can demonstrate financial need and open to all.

However, the following are grants specifically dedicated to women in pursuit of higher education:

  • AAUW Career Development Grants
    Amount: $2,000 to $12,000
    Deadline: November 15

    The American Association of University Women (AAUW) offers a Career Development Grant for women who are in search of career advancement, reentry to the workforce, or even a change to their career trajectory. You must have completed a bachelor’s degree before July 2015 to qualify. Applicants can pursue second bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, certificate programs, technical school programs, or professional degrees. It is also important to note that this grant gives special consideration to women in pursuit of an advanced degree for the first time, women of color, and women seeking credentials in a field that is considered non-traditional. You can use the funds for tuition, books, supplies, fees, dependent care, and transportation. All applicants must be US citizens or permanent residents. Online education will be considered if it is offered at an US Department of Education approved, accredited, higher learning institution.

  • P.E.O. Program for Continuing Education
    Amount : $3,000
    Deadline : 10 Weeks Before Term Start
    Link :

    The P.E.O. Program for Continuing Education (PCE) provides needs-based grants to women in pursuit of a degree or certification. Prerequisite courses, doctoral degrees, and immediate continuation of another degree do not qualify. Qualifying applicants must have experienced a minimum of 24 consecutive months without being a student at some point in their career. You can, however, pursue technical and academic courses along with approved online programs. Grant funds are to be used strictly for tuition, books, supplies, exam fees, graduation fees, transportation, and childcare during course-related times. You must be a US or Canadian citizen or permanent resident, and you will not be required to be a member of P.E.O. to qualify. However, applicants who are not members will require local chapter sponsorship to move forward as a grant candidate. This can be done by completing the online application.

  • Women and Minorities in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Fields Grant Program (WAMS)
    Amount: Varies
    Deadline: February 24
    Link :

    This grant is dedicated to both education and career advancement. If you have a project you wish to be approved, the project must center around improving STEM participation in rural areas from underrepresented minorities and women. To be eligible, you must be focusing on human sciences, natural resources, agriculture and food. Projects should also focus on STEM employment opportunities and rural economic growth and viability. A total of $400,000 is available for grant funding. This total sum will likely be distributed between several qualified applicants.

  • Patsy Takemoto Mink Education Foundation Award
    Amount: $5,000
    Deadline: TBA
    Link :

    The Patsy Takemoto Mink Education Foundation is committed to helping improve the lives of women and children from low-income households. The award is dedicated to mothers in pursuit of higher education to empower themselves and to take control of their future. To qualify, you must be a mother with minor children who are no older than the age of 17. You must also be in pursuit of your first degree. It can be an associate degree, vocational degree, bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, doctoral degree, or other professional degree. It just has to be your first degree of any kind. The higher learning institution of your choosing must be an accredited, non-profit school or program located in the US and you must earn less than $20,000 if you are a family of two, less than $24,000 for a family of three and less than $28,000 if you have four members in your family. Funds are to be used for school and/or living expenses only.

  • Live Your Dream Awards
    Amount: Up to $16,000
    Deadline: November 15
    Link :

    The Live Your Dream Awards is sponsored by the Soroptimist. The awards are dedicated to women who are the primary financial earner in the household. You must also have dependents; this can be in the form of parents, siblings, a partner, a spouse, or children. Applicants will have to verify their financial need. To qualify, you must reside in a participating member country of the Soroptimist organization, which includes the US, Canada, Mexico, Paraguay, Taiwan, and more. You cannot have won this award previously or already completed a graduate degree. The funding can be used for tuition, books, transportation, and/or childcare. The overall purpose of these awards is to allow women to focus more on completing higher education and worry less about financial obligations.

  • Go Girl! Grants
    Amount: Varies
    Deadline: December 15 / June 15
    Link :

    Go Girl! Grants are provided by the Girlfriend Factor. Over the years, more than 147 women have been provided $500,000 in grant funding. These grants are dedicated to women in pursuit of bachelor’s degrees and occupational certifications. To qualify, you must be able to verify your financial need and be at least 25. It is essential that you demonstrate your passion for your educational journey and career potential. You can pursue nearly any type of education in a variety of educational institutions such as beauty school, dentistry school, community college, state schools, or private colleges. The only stipulation is that you attend a school near Coachella Valley, CA. The goal of these grants is to provide self-sufficiency and economic growth to women through higher education. Keep in mind that these grants are given twice a year.

Business Grants for Women

Business grants for women help to empower anyone who identifies as a woman by improving career prospects and providing entrepreneurial opportunity. Just like college-specific grants, you will not have to pay these grants back. It can be extremely difficult to continue your education and start a business with some of life’s bigger challenges hanging over you. These grants give women a greater financial advantage for continuing education and starting new businesses. The more grant money you procure, the less you will have to depend upon loans and working several jobs to save money. Be sure to apply for as many grants as you qualify for to improve your chances of securing this type of gift aid.

  • The Amber Grants
    Amount: $4,000 to $29,000
    Deadline: Last day of every month

    The Amber Grants are awarded by the Amber Grant Foundation to eligible women. This grant process is slightly unique in that, if you win a $4,000 grant, you become eligible to win an additional $25,000 grant. Each month, one grant is awarded for $4,000. Once a year, a $25,000 grant winner is selected from the year’s previous $4,000 grant winners. In total, you could win $29,000. This grant does require an application fee of $15. The grant is not guaranteed just by paying the $15 fee. You must be a woman business owner in the US or Canada to apply. You can be the sole founder or a co-owner with other women or men. Non-profit entities do not qualify.

  • Idea Cafe’s Small Business Grant
    Amount : $1,000
    Deadline : January 21
    Link :

    The Idea Cafe’s Small Business Grant is dedicated to small business owners. While it is not exclusively for women, the vast majority of the community is women. As a result, the winners are typically women. The type of business can be anything, including businesses related to food, animals, technology, crafts, and more. This grant does not require an application fee. You also do not have to submit a business plan along with your application. Winners are selected by the community. It is recommended that you encourage your friends, family, customers, business partners, etc. to vote for you. However, keep in mind each person can only vote one time each round. If you win a qualifying round, you will go up against the other finalists to win the grant.

  • Cartier Women’s Initiative
    Amount: $30,000 to $100,000
    Deadline: TBA
    Link :

    The Cartier Women’s Initiative is dedicated to women in business who found and lead businesses. The businesses must demonstrate tremendous potential for significant growth in the coming years and be in the early growth stages. You must also demonstrate your drive to take your business to the next level. Twenty-one finalists will be selected from seven pre-determined regions, which equates to three finalists from each region. During the competition and throughout awards week, as a finalist, you will receive financial and business coaching, attend workshops and networking events, interview with local and global press, and receive vast media exposure. One winner from each region will receive $100,000. The two runners-up in each region will receive $30,000. You will also receive prizes and benefits in addition to the money, such as paid access to entrepreneur programs and continued support to develop your business. It is important to note that only for-profit businesses are eligible for these financial awards. You must also be at least 18 and speak and write with proficiency in English.

Tips and Advice Before You Start

Be proactive. Grants will not come to you. It is essential that you take the time to search for the right grants for your future goals. This can be a highly time-consuming process. Do not give up. If you do a little bit each day, it will be far more manageable.

Meet deadlines. You do not get extensions on grant applications for any reason. Even if you have a death in the family, you still have to meet the deadline. Everyone has challenges in life that make meeting deadlines difficult. It is your responsibility to do whatever it takes to meet your deadlines. Just think, you could potentially lose out on $20,000 or more in free money that you do not have to pay back just because you mismanaged your time. Meet your deadlines!

Look to your community. Local communities and professional communities are often overlooked sources filled with grant potential. Communities are often highly supportive of people within their area, whether geographical or career-based organizations. Be sure to look for grants at the local and state level, as well as to look for professional organization grants. You may have to join an organization to be eligible; however, these organizations often offer more benefits than simply the ability to apply for grants.

Look for red flags and scams. Cyber-criminals are everywhere. It is essential that you protect your personal information. A government grant will never ask for an application fee, nor will any grant, federal or otherwise, guarantee that you will receive funding just by applying. Grants also do not require your social security number or date of birth to apply. Be sure to verify the grant source is a legitimate organization. Rather than clicking on the link provided, use a search engine to seek information on the source of the grant before you apply and always read reviews online.

If you are in search of a business grant as an entrepreneur, you will likely require a business plan. Before you even think about starting a business, complete a business plan with financial projections. This will help you determine whether or not your business is viable and allow you to demonstrate to the grant committee the long-term potential success of your business idea.