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Grants are amounts of money awarded to an individual or group in order to finance an activity. Grants are sponsored by federal agencies or other organizations and usually do not have to be repaid. Most student aid grants are need-based, meaning that you must meet a financial need to be eligible for them. By completing the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), your financial aid office can determine if you are eligible for a federal grant. Some types of federal grants include:

Federal Pell Grant

When you complete the FAFSA, you are immediately notified of Pell Grant eligibility. Eligibility is determined using the EFC (Estimated Family Contribution) on the SAR (Student Aid Report), which is created when your FAFSA is processed. If you are eligible for a Pell Grant, then you automatically receive the grant and may also be eligible for the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG). The amount awarded is based on your school’s cost of attendance and your student enrollment status. Read more…

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)

The Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant is also need-based. Pell Grant recipients are given priority for this grant. You must be an undergraduate student to receive this grant, and priority is given to full-time students.

Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG)

The Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG) provides up to $750 for the first year of undergraduate study and up to $1,300 for the second year of study to full-time students who have Pell Grant eligibility.

National SMART Grant

The Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent (SMART) Grant Program awards up to $4,000 for third and fourth year of study to students who are Pell Grant eligible and are majoring in physical science, life science, computer science, mathematics, technology, engineering, or in a foreign language that is critical to national security.

Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant

The Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant Program provides grants up to $4,000 per year for students who plan to teach in a public or private elementary or secondary school that serves students from low-income families.

How to Find Grants for College?

You’re aware that grants are the best way to pay for college, but how do you find them? Is there some giant book of grants at the library that you have to pore over? Do you have to fill out lots of confusing forms or write essays about why you should be the honored recipient of an organization’s coveted award? Finding grants is easy if you just do your homework.

Federal Grants

You can probably guess the first step—fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) as soon as possible. There are several types of federal grants, and one form is your path to all of them. Perhaps you think you or your family earns too much money to be eligible for a federal grant, which may be true. However, there have been instances where students have been pleasantly surprised to find out that they were more financially in need than they thought. You have nothing to lose by filling out the FAFSA, and most colleges’ financial aid offices require you to complete it before they will even discuss your financial options.

Goverment Grants

While you may not be aware of how all encompassing government grants are, they play a vital role in our society. They help grow our economy by providing college education to prospective students who otherwise may not attend, but that’s not all. Government grants are also used for particular projects to develop solutions that make our society a better place to live. Read more…

State Grants

If you don’t qualify for a federal grant based on financial need, state grants usually take into account a student’s academic merits as well as financial need. You will still have to fill out the FAFSA, but contact your state’s grant agency to determine what other forms you must submit to be considered for state grant money.

Private Grants

Private grants are like scholarships in that they are usually merit-based. Most of these come from companies, organizations, employers, or associations and do have grade point average requirements. You should start with businesses, religious organizations, or civic clubs in your community. Next, you can check with your parents’ employers or your own employer. Last, contact companies that provide a service that is similar to the degree you will be seeking. For example, if you are pursuing a chemical engineering degree, check with corporations that try to hire chemical engineering graduates from your university. These grants won’t be as easy to find, meaning you’ll have to put some effort into your search, but remember that the end result could mean the difference between graduating from college burdened with loans to repay and graduating debt free.

Grants VS Loans

Although most people realize that the major difference between grants and loans is whether or not you must repay the money, there are other factors that distinguish a grant from a loan.


Obtaining grants is more favorable than taking out loans to pay for your education simply because you are not required to repay grants. This money is a gift to you from the sponsor. A loan is money that you borrow and must begin to repay with added interest either while you are attending school or a short period after you graduate.

Application Process

One application is used for both federal grants and federal loans. The first step to any form of financial aid is to complete and submit the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Your college will determine grant or loan eligibility based on the Student Aid Report generated after you complete the FAFSA.

If you do not qualify for federal aid or want to seek grant or loan sources other than the federal government, you will need to do some research to determine what types of grants or loans are available. Applying for a loan will require you to submit information such as your income, current debt, and social security number for the purpose of obtaining your credit score. Applying for a grant may include submitting your income as well as writing an essay or grant proposal.


Federal grants are awarded based on financial need. Other grants may be awarded based on the applicant’s ability to research or provide a service that is beneficial to an organization’s objective. Loan eligibility is usually determined by your credit score and your total estimated cost of attendance. You may also have to have a creditworthy cosigner in order to receive a loan.


Grants may have a time limitation, such as a grant that is awarded only to first-year students, and may require a student to maintain a certain grade point average. Loans are usually available throughout the student’s academic career but may impose a minimum number of hours that a student must complete each academic period.

Obviously, grants are ideal but not always available. Remember that it is always recommended that you read the fine print when accepting any grant or loan so that you are aware of the any terms or limitations.