One of the most difficult aspects of going to college is paying for it. It is not a secret that college may be expensive. This is why you should think about applying for an educational grant to help you pay for college tuition. Every day, more students turn to educational grants for financial assistance during the college process.
It is quite simple for you to apply for a federal college grant. However, you must ensure that you are eligible for the grant for which you are applying. This article will explain the basics of educational grants and how to apply for them.
What are Federal Educational Grants for College?
Educational grants are free funds that the federal government provides to students so that they can pay the college expenses. Unlike a student loan, you do not have to repay the money, which is the best part about it.
Every year, students get a variety of educational grants totaling billions of dollars. The Department of Education offers numerous government grants to students enrolled in four-year colleges or universities, community colleges, and vocational schools. Some of those educational grants may require a certain income level as an eligibility standard. It makes sense since those grants aim to help low-income students in the first place.
How Do They Work?
When you earn a grant, the federal government pays your college directly on your behalf. The grant funds cover your student tuition, books, campus housing, and meals, which are almost all of your college expenses. Some grant programs allow students to receive a refund if their grant funds exceed the amount required for educational expenses.
In fact, the federal government collects the money for these grants through taxpayers. Some state educational grants get the funds through lotteries and taxes.
Are You Eligible for Federal College Grants?
In general, you must be an American citizen or a qualifying non-citizen that has graduated high school, in order to be eligible for one of the federal educational grants. Both federal grants and state grants require students to demonstrate that they are in need of financial aid.
Federal educational grants and state educational grants, according to Government Grants US, may also require the following:
- US citizen students must have a valid social security number.
- At least half-time enrollment is required.
- Applicants must not have any loans.
- Grants recipients must maintain passing grades.
- Applicants and grantees must be free of incarceration.
- Male students are required to register with the Selective Service.
- Noncitizens should visit StudentAid.gov/noncitizen to check the list of noncitizen statuses that are eligible for federal educational funding.
How to Apply for a Federal College Grant?
When it comes to applying to any of the federal college grants, the rule of thumb is to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and submit it. Simple, right? If you are not sure how to do it, check this.
On The FAFSA you will provide basic personal information (such as your name, date of birth, address, and so on) as well as your financial status. Depending on your circumstances (for example, if you are a U.S. citizen or the tax form you used), you may need the following information or documents to complete the FAFSA application:
- Your Social Security number (It MUST be accurate!).
- The Social Security number of your parents in case you are a dependent student.
- Your driver’s license number in case you have one.
- For non-American students; your Alien Registration number.
- Federal tax information, tax records, or tax returns, including IRS W-2 information, for you (and your spouse, if married), as well as your parents if you are a dependent student:
- IRS 1040.
- IRS 1040NR or foreign tax return.
- Tax return for Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, or Palau.
- Records of untaxed income, such as child support, interest income, and veterans noneducation benefits, for you and your parents if you are a dependent student.
- Cash; savings and checking account balances; assets, including stocks and bonds and real estate (but excluding your primary residence); and farm and business assets for you, as well as your parents if you are a dependent student.
Money is one thing you do not need for the FAFSA form! So, if a website or mobile app asks you to pay to fill out the FAFSA form, then you are not dealing with the official FAFSA site or the official myStudentAid app. Once completed, your college will look at the information on the form to decide whether or not you are eligible for the grant.
Types of Federal College Grants
The federal government has 4 main educational grants to help students get proper education, without worrying about money. These federal grants are:
#1 Pell Grant
The most widespread federal educational grant. It is awarded only to undergraduate students who show exceptional financial need and have not earned their degrees yet. Pell Grant is even more popular because students are not required to repay it, unlike many other educational assistance programs.
Pell Grant is a significant source of educational support. It assists students with paying for college expenses such as tuition, fees, accommodation, food, and other educational expenses. There are specific factors that determine the amount of assistance the grant provides, such as:
- Your Expected Family Contribution (EFC).
- The cost of attendance at your college or university.
- Your enrollment status: full-time, part-time, or somewhere in between.
- How many academic years you intend to attend.
Each year, colleges calculate a student’s Pell Grant award based on these factors mentioned above, using an annually updated chart of the Department of Education. Nevertheless, the Federal Student Aid announced that the maximum Pell Grant award for the 2023–24 academic year is $7,395. (July 1, 2023, to June 30, 2024).
#2 The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)
The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) is a grant dedicated to undergraduate students who are in exceptional financial need. It has the goal of helping these students pay for higher education.
The amount of award you can receive through FSEOG range from $100 up to $4000. It depends on when you apply, how much assistance you are receiving from other resources, and whether the grant is available in your college.
Each participating college gets a certain amount of FSEOG funds from the Office of Federal Student Aid every year. Once all of the grantees receive their funds, no more FSEOG awards can be made that year. This grant differs from the Federal Pell Grant Program, which awards funds to all qualifying students.
If you qualify for the grant, your college will credit your student account, pay you directly, or use a combination of both ways. Colleges must distribute funds at least once per term (semester, trimester, or quarter). However, colleges that do not employ semesters, trimesters, or quarters must make funding available at least twice per academic year.
Therefore, make sure to apply for federal student aid as soon as possible. For campus-based funds, each college sets its own deadlines. The deadline for a college can be found on its website or by contacting the financial aid office.
#3 Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant
The TEACH Grant provides annual payments of up to $4,000 to students who are completing or plan to complete course work required to begin a teaching career. As you can see, the TEACH grant focuses on future teachers. This is why it differs from the other government educational grants in a few ways.
It has one special requirement that you must fulfill in order to receive the grant. You have to complete a teaching service obligation if you wish to get the TEACH assistance, considering the following:
- You should serve as a full-time, highly qualified teacher for four elementary or secondary school years at a low-income school or educational assistance organization;
- Teach in a field where there is a great need; and
- Complete the mandatory four years of teaching within eight years of graduating from or ceasing to be a student at the institution of higher education where you got your TEACH Grants.
If you fail in meeting this condition, the TEACH Grant will turn into a loan that you must repay with interest. Only under limited circumstances, a TEACH Grant that has been converted to a loan can be converted back to a grant.
#4 Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant
Like other federal grants, Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants help college students pay for their education. Nonetheless, the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants have their own set of eligibility requirements, as shown below:
- Your parent or guardian served in the United States Army and died while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan following the 9/11 attacks, and
- You were under 24 years old or enrolled at least part-time in college at the time of your parent’s or guardian’s death, and
- You are not qualified for a Pell Grant because of your EFC, but you meet all of the other requirements.
In general, the grant provides an equal amount of funds as the maximum Federal Pell Grant available for the award year. Nonetheless, bear in mind that it cannot exceed your cost of attendance for that year.
In brief, paying for higher education can be overwhelming and stressful. Still, everyone has an equal right to it, regardless of their financial situation. This is why the federal government provides a variety of college grants to help low-income students earn high degrees.
There are four major federal grants: the Pell Grant, the FSEOG Grant, the TEACH Grant, and the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant. You can apply to any of them in the same way: by completing a FAFSA form, which your college will use to determine your eligibility.