Funding your college education can be a hefty expense. But if you are willing to do a little research, you will find that you can get grants through the federal government that will help you pay for school. The key is to be organized about the information that is collected through your research. You will need to have patience and pay attention to the process of applying for federal education grants. Below are the steps you will need to take in order to get a federal education grant.
Getting Started. Gather all the information pertinent to your grant search. Find out your family's income as well as information about their financial assets. Until the age of 25, most universities and colleges require the student to apply for federal grants using their parent’s financial information. After the age of 25, you will use you own tax returns as proof of income. If you are on your own, then gather last year's tax returns so that you will have this information available. Also gather social security numbers, previous school addresses, and other pertinent personal information in one place to streamline the process.
Eligibility. There are a variety of general rules that a student will be required to meet and follow. The following is a list of the items by which eligibility for federal education grants is decided.
- Have a need for financial assistance.
- Have a high school diploma or equivalent.
- Be a student at an institution and working towards earning a degree in the subject. This school must be eligible to receive the funds as well.
- Be a citizen of the United States or a qualified non-resident of the United States.
- Have a social security number issued to you.
- Register with the Selective Service if necessary.
- Maintain a passing grade point average.
- Agree that you are not currently in default on an educational loan of any kind.
- Agree that the funds are to be used for school only.
FAFSA and the Pell Grant. The first type of grant for which you can apply is the Pell Grant. This federal grant was formally known as the Basic Education Opportunity Grant program and is the most commonly used federal education grant offered for higher education. The maximum amount that you can receive per term through the Pell Grant is $5,550.00.
To apply, you will fill out the Federal Application For Student Aid, which every accredited college and university requires. The Pell Grant is based on economic need, and you will be notified through your university if you quality.
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity (FSEOG). This grant is very similar to the Pell Grant but is paid out a little differently. Seventy-five percent is paid through the U.S. Government and the other twenty-five percent is covered by the school. This grant is also dependent on the income of the student and/or the student’s parents or guardian. You apply for this grant through the Federal Application for Student Aid.
This grant has several contingencies that may exclude some students from applying for these grant funds. The requirements for this grant are: you must be a citizen of the United States, do not currently hold a bachelor’s degree, have never had an overpayment of federal Pell Grant funds, and are not in default on a loan that funded your education.
Broaden Your Search. When you fill out the FAFSA there is a question pertaining to the type of aid you are willing to consider. Be sure that you allow for money from grants. This is because you may be able to get funding automatically under certain circumstances, such as having been a ward of the state.
- Go to www.grants.gov. This site is the official website for information about grants for college education, small businesses, and other needs. Register on this site and use the search features to help you determine if you qualify for any federal grants. You may qualify based on a number of criteria, such as your age, sex, race, and other categories of identity. Other grants are available for certain career fields or for people with special circumstances.
- State Grants. Most states have grant funds that are dedicated to higher education. These programs are designed to help students gain more aid to pay for a college education. Check with your state to determine your eligibility for these education grants.
- Other Grants. Other financial aid may be obtained through grants and scholarships that are funded by third parties. This includes private corporations, the public school system, and private corporations. The eligibility for these loans will vary depending on a variety of factors such as the source of the funding, your grade point average, or your participation in community service. Inquire with the financial aid office at your school for more information on additional types of grants and scholarships.
- Get Updates. Sign up for the newsletter list on www.grants.gov so that you will receive emails when new grants are added. Check the site every time you are notified so that you can apply quickly for any grants that become available.
- Talk to a Professional. Check with someone in financial aid at your college or university and with your guidance counselor if you are just leaving high school. You may find that they are aware of specific grants that will help you. Use these resource people to their fullest advantage in helping you fund your education.