Grants for college come from different sources and serve to help pay the costs of college for students. College grants are available for low-income students, minority students, disabled students, former military students and students studying in a particular area. They may come from the federal or state government, private colleges or universities, public agencies, private companies and foundations.
With tuition costs constantly rising, it is becoming more and more difficult for students to pay for their college education. Federal grants are awarded based on a student’s financial need. Unlike loans, grants do not need to be repaid. However, grants can be awarded with certain conditions such as imposing a responsibility to work in under-served communities. If the grant terms are not met, the grant may revert to a student loan, which will require the student to repay the money with interest.
During the 2007-2008 academic year, 66 percent of undergraduates received some type of financial assistance. On average, students received $9,100 in financial aid.
Educational funding can come from a variety of sources, including:
- Federal grants
- State grants
- Colleges and universities
- Professional associations
- Advocacy groups
- Charitable organizations
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
To be considered for most college grants, a student needs to fill out a FAFSA form. This form helps determine a family’s ability to pay for a student to go to college. Generally, the neediest students will be eligible for most federal grant funding. Students submitted nearly 22 million FAFSA forms during the 2011-12 academic year.
Popular Grants For College Students
The Pell Grant is the most popular federal college grant. Although most Pell Grant money is awarded to students with a total family income of less than $20,000, students with a total family income of $50,000 or less may be eligible for need-based funding.
TEACH Grants provide financial aid to students who intend to pursue a teaching career. Eligible students must meet specific criteria and commit to at least four years of teaching in school that serves low-income students.
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant
Typically awarded to undergraduates, The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) program also provides grant money to students who are eligible for Pell Grants but whos family contributions are expected to be very low.
Academic Competitiveness Grant
The Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG) is based on merit and financial need. To be eligible for an ACG, a student must have taken AP or honors classes throughout high school and maintained at least a 3.0 grade point average.
Aside from these government grant opportunities there are several other grants and scholarships available to college students listed here.
Taking advantage of a grant is not just confined to pursuing a college course. Students who pursue graduate or doctoral education may qualify for grants to pay their tuition and other expenses. Graduate and doctoral students in a program requiring them to travel abroad to study may be eligible for grants that pay travel costs and other expenses. Private universities often offer generous grants to such students. Other grants may be offered by public and other private organizations.
Learn more about graduate grants by visiting our Graduate Grants page.
Trade, Technical and Vocational Studies
Students enrolled in technical or vocational studies may be eligible for trade school grants awarded by companies or institutions associated with the field of study. For instance, the Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES) supports six scholarships to students studying in the field of heating, air conditioning, ventilation and refrigeration. Nursing students may also receive aid from the government for a pledge of a stipulated number of years of service after graduation at health care facilities with a shortage of nurses. Visit our page on Nursing Grants to learn more. If you are a student in trade, technical and vocational studies click here to learn more.
College Grants for Women
Thinking about college grants for women specifically may be hard to do because for the most part, grants are offered on a relatively universal plain. That said, there are some organizations that address specific issues within their protocol, and they choose to offer grants to women who fit the basic theme of their organization. Grants are less rigorous than scholarships, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be just as specific in terms of who qualifies for them. Please take a look at our list of College Grants for Women.
College Grants for Minorities
There are many minority college grants out there available to ethnic minorities. These grants are intended to assist individuals who, by nature of their ethnicity or background, may have been subject to barriers preventing them from attaining higher education.