Is a lack of cash holding you back from advancing your education or taking your career to new heights? See how the federal government can help via grants.
If you need help right away, some programs may direct deposit a short-term loan into your bank account.
Is going to college or a career school expensive? In many cases, yes. Should this keep you from pursuing that dream? Of course not, as there are several ways to help finance your education, with federal grants being one of the very best.
What Is a Federal Grant?
A grant can come from various sources, such as:
- Federal government
- Career schools
- Private organizations
In the case of education, a grant is a financial award that can reduce tuition costs and other expenses associated with going to college or a career school. Best of all, you do not have to pay the money back as long as you follow specific rules, making grants a much more attractive option than student loans.
With federal grants, awards come from the U.S. Department of Education. Perhaps the most popular option is the Federal Pell Grant, which goes to undergraduate students that display a financial need. Another government grant for undergrads that’s need-based is the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant. Financial aid offices administer it at participating schools.
As you’ll find when generally searching for college grants, some are tied to specific fields of study and careers. As far as federal grants go, one example of this is the TEACH Grant. You’ll need to take certain classes to receive the funding and fulfill obligations as a teacher to ensure you don’t have to pay the money back.
Other grants, meanwhile, may be tied to things beyond financial need or your field of study. Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants are an example of this, as they are awarded to children of parents or guardians who died in either conflict.
Eligibility for Federal Grants
Where does one determine their financial need so they can qualify for federal grants? By filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form (FAFSA).
Once complete, schools will be able to see where you stand in terms of financial need, and this will affect whether or not you receive certain grants.
You’ll have to complete a FAFSA form during each year of your studies to continue receiving aid. While this may seem tedious, the financial rewards make it well worth your time.
Once eligible for a grant, you will have to follow specific rules to keep the money without repayment. These differ according to the grant. If you do not follow those rules, you may have to pay the money back. Examples where this would be the case include:
- Switching enrollment status from full-time to a part-time student.
- Receiving other scholarships that reduce your financial need.
- Withdrawing from a program you received the grant for.
If repayment is necessary, you will usually have 45 days to pay the grant back. If you cannot pay it in full, you can work out a repayment arrangement. Fulfilling the agreement is a must if you hope to receive other forms of federal student aid in the future.