Higher education often leads to more job opportunities and a higher salary. With college tuition continuously rising though, it can make seeking a degree nearly impossible. Applying for grants for college has never been easier with the help of the internet.
In 2011, annual college tuition costs were on average $20,000 for private universities, $12,000 for public universities and $5,000 for community colleges. This doesn’t include living expenses.
Taking out student loans can lead to enormous debt upon graduation. With the stress of finding employment, you’ll also have to deal with coming up with ways to start paying loans back.
There is a simpler way to pay for school, especially when you are in financial need. College grants provide you the ability to fund your education without having to pay the money back. It’s an award many schools, organizations and the government provide students to make it possible for them to receive a college education.
Many college grants exist all over the country that students don’t know about. The only way to get them is to find them and apply.
The most popular and largest source for college grants is the government. They have four main types of grants for students in financial need.
- Pell Grant
- The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant
- The Academic Competitiveness Grant
- The National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant
The Pell Grant
The Federal government awards the Pell Grant to thousands of students every year. The maximum award amount in the 2010-2011 school year was $5,500. Award amount depends on the student’s family household income.
Students must attend a postsecondary institution at the time of application and must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, form each year they would like to receive the grant.
The Federal Supplemental Education Grant
For students with the lowest family household income, this grant offers approximately $100 to $4,000 in addition to the Pell Grant. The exact amount depends on the student’s financial need, when they apply and a how much is available in the fund.
Students applying for the Pell Grant with FAFSA receive automatic consideration for the Federal Supplemental Education Grant.
If awarded, students receive a credit on their tuition, a check from the school, or a combination of both.
The Academic Competitiveness Grant
The Academic Competitiveness Grant, or ACG, recognizes students with exceptional first and second year college grades. Awarded students receive this along with their Pell Grant depending on financial need. In 2011, the maximum amount awarded for first year college students was $750 and $1,300 for second year students.
Students must complete a “Rigorous Secondary School Program” as stated by the Federal Government for consideration for this award.
Second year students can apply for the ACG after the first year of school as long as they have a grade point average, or GPA, of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.
You can apply for the ACG by completing the questions for the grant included on the FAFSA form.
The National SMART Grant
This grant is for third, fourth and fifth year students receiving the Pell Grant and studying mathematics, technology, engineering, critical foreign language or physical, life or computer sciences. Students must have at least a 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale.
Awarded students receive up to $4,000 in addition to the Pell Grant.
To apply for the National SMART Grant, students complete the dedicated section on the FAFSA form.
Grants for Women
More than 50% of students who apply for college are women, and many of them are from low-income families. It’s no wonder that many women’s colleges and women-oriented organizations offer grants to women students.
Women students can look into grants from their educational institution and from:
- Soroptomist International of the America’s Women’s Opportunity Awards
- Kalamazoo Women’s Education Coalition
- Raise the Nation Program
- Jeanette Rankin Foundation
- Career Advancement Scholarship Program
- P.E.O. Program for Continuing Education
- Sunshine Lady Foundation
Grants from the U.S. Armed Forces
Students who are in the military or have parents servicing the country may be eligible to receive education grants. The Illinois Veteran Grant and Federal Tuition Assistance Program are two organizations to find out more about them.
Some organizations award grants to students studying specific subjects.
- National Collegiate Athletic Association and National Strength Conditioning Association offer athletes financial assistance for college.
- Students majoring in math or computer science should look into the American Math Society and National Science Foundation.
- Photography major may find grants with MyParkPhotos.org Foundation and McKnight Photography Fellowship.
- Students studying African students may want to look into the Ruth Simms Hamilton Research Fellowship.
- Agricultural students can look for grants through the Future Farmers of America and American Floral Endowment Fund.
- Insurance and accounting majors should contact the National Society of Accountants and State Farm Insurance Company.
Apply to Grant for Financial Assistance
The only way to receive financial assistance through grants is to apply for them. Make sure to continue searching and applying for grants every year you are in school to increase your chances of receiving a grant. For motivation to keep searching and applying, remember the more money you receive from grants the less money you will have to pay back in loans.