If you hop onto any social media platform and look at what people are discussing when it comes to politics or quality of life in the US, you’re very likely to come across someone talking about student loans. The issue of student loans is one that has been a huge topic of discussion for years or even decades. And, why wouldn’t it be? If you think about it in simple terms, it’d drive you crazy to know how much education costs in America. These student loan agreements that 17 to 18-year-olds sign are just insane. Not only do these students borrow a significant amount of money from banks, but they also agree to ridiculously high-interest rates. Students would then take that money, go off to school and let their debt pile up in the background.
It’s not shocking to meet people in their 40s or even their 50s who still have college debt. That situation alone is enough to steer people away from higher education. Many families would rather invest their money in necessities such as shelter and food. However, education is one of the most powerful ways to progress a person’s life. Education helps develop people’s lives in many ways, including careers, and skill acquisition.
Thankfully, there are ways to avoid that struggle. The government develops financial assistance programs to help out Americans. These programs aim to help those who need help the most. Among these programs are federal education programs.
What Are These Federal Educational Grants All About?
Federal educational grants are one way the government is showing that they recognize the student loan problem in the country. With your typical student loan, your lender will ask you to sign an agreement stating that they expect the money back, plus interest. Grants are different. What separates a grant from a loan, is that the government doesn’t expect these grants to be paid back. That means eligible students can get the money they need for education, and never have to worry about paying back the money.
You might think “That sounds amazing. Why isn’t everyone getting one of those grants?” This is where we start to understand a bit more about these grants. As a matter of fact, this is where we start to understand government assistance programs better. The government creates these assistance programs to help specific groups of people. To qualify for government assistance, you need to meet certain qualifying criteria. For example, if the government offers assistance programs for families, single people do not qualify. There are also other programs that aim to help people with low incomes. In those cases, the government will narrow down its candidate pool to people who meet a certain maximum financial standard.
These educational grants follow the same rule. In order to acquire one of these grants, you need to meet certain eligibility terms. We’ll explore some of the federal educational grant options offered. We’ll also look into how to qualify for them.
Educational Grants Can Come In One Of Two Forms
Considering that eligible applicants don’t have to pay grant money back, there’s quite the competition for them. Obviously, everyone wants to get a degree while investing the least amount of resources possible. And, education in America costs quite a bit of one specific resource, money. Hence, applicants need to step up their game when it comes to their grant applications.
There are 2 types of grants that a typical student can come across. There are merit-based grants and need-based grants. Students with exceptional academic and/or athletic talents often go for merit-based grants. But, as you can imagine, those take quite a bit of work and dedication. Also, not everyone naturally has the talents to qualify for these grants.
On the other hand, there are need-based grants. These grants aim to help those who display an exceptional need for financial help from the government. In less fancy words, the government uses these grants to help out those who don’t have enough income to afford to go to college. Nevertheless, there is still a lot of competition for those grants. As we’ve mentioned, higher education in America is expensive, and not everyone has that kind of money.
In this article, we want to explore need-based grants. We’ll talk about what they offer, what they require, and how to start their processes. We’ll also provide you with links to official websites that could give you more information on these programs.
We’re starting things off with arguably the most popular federal education grant program in the US. Much like with every other grant or even any government assistance, you need to qualify to receive the Pell grant benefits. This grant program focuses on helping people with low incomes. Needless to say, people who require this kind of student aid would use the grant to finance their education. If eligible, students can receive up to $6,495 per academic year in student aid through the Pell grant.
Applying For The Pell Grant
The application process for the Pell grant is surprisingly simple. Basically, students need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form. FAFSA will be something that we will mention often in our article. The form is a very common way for students to apply for student aid from the government. It’s really important to provide the government with any information they require. Even more importantly, applicants have to provide accurate and truthful information on their forms. The government will do a thorough check of all information provided by applicants. If the government accepts your application, they will then start deciding if they will grant you the money, and if so, how much they will grant you.
How Does The Government Decide If They Will Give The Grant To A Student? How Does The Government Decide How Much They Will Give The Student Through The Pell Grant?
We’ve already discussed how this educational grant program aims at people with low incomes. Students, through their application, need to display their need for financial assistance to further their education. There’s no particular income cut-off for the Pell Grant eligibility. However, the government does have a certain way to crunch the numbers and make decisions regarding who to give the grant to. Also, these numbers help the government decide how much to give every eligible applicant.
The government relies on 2 specific numbers to make such decisions. The first being your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). This number is based on your family’s taxed and untaxed income, assets, and benefits. Things such as the number of members in your family, as well as the number of members in your family who are going to college may also affect the decision.
The second number the government uses to make decisions regarding a Pell grant application is the Cost Of Attendance (COA). Simply put, COA will include the following:
- Tuition and fees
- The cost of room and board (or living expenses for students who do not contract with the school for room and board)
- The cost of books, supplies, transportation, loan fees, and miscellaneous expenses (including a reasonable amount for the documented cost of a personal computer)
- An allowance for child care or other dependent care
- Costs related to a disability
- Reasonable costs for eligible study-abroad programs.
FSEOG ranks pretty high when it comes to popular educational grant programs. The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant also aims to help those with certain financial needs. So, it mostly works the same way as the Pell grant. Students apply, the governments give them the money if they’re eligible, and the students don’t have to pay it back. However, there are a few differences. First of all, the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant offers anywhere between $100 and $4,000 per academic year to students.
The second difference is that students may only receive this financial aid if they study in schools that participate in the FSEOG program. So, if a school doesn’t, students may not get help through FSEOG. Last but not least, the government assigns these grants to schools with limited funds. That means if a school finishes its FSEOG budget for the academic year, it won’t be able to grant that kind of student aid to any more students for that academic year.
Applying For The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)
Remember how we mentioned that a lot of educational grant programs require students to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form? Well, this one is no exception. This is a great time to remind all applicants once more to provide accurate and truthful information on the form.
To Sum Things Up
Education in the US is crazy expensive. A lot of people will either get into a long-term debt for education, or will just avoid higher education altogether. This is why grants are such a good option for those who struggle financially. After all, why wouldn’t you go for higher education if you don’t need to pay for it?