When combined with free scholarship and grant opportunities found at Scholarships.com, government grants can significantly decrease, if not completely cover, a student’s financial needs. Unlike loans, grants do not need to be repaid; unlike federal work study and assistantships, there is no labor involved. When students submit a FAFSA, they are automatically in the running to receive government need-based grants. The most well-known of these is the Pell Grant, but lesser-known government grants are also available. Here is a breakdown of grants students may find on their FAFSA award letters:
The Pell Grant is the largest grant program in the United States, awarding undergraduates with millions each year. The Pell Grant is the foundation of all government aid. Seeing as Pell Grant money is free, awesome GPA or not, students should take advantage of all offers before moving on to Federal Work Study and government loans. Unfortunately, students don’t always get their fill with Pell Grants. During the 2007-2008 school year, students may only receive up to $4,310 in aid from Pell Grants, and not all eligible students receive this much. This may seem like a drop in the bucket for those who need $12,000 or more each year, but every penny counts.
Students with extreme need may be eligible for the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG). Like the Pell Grant, this is a grant for undergraduates. It is intended to provide additional assistance to the neediest of students, those with the lowest expected family contributions. Students may receive up to $4,000 each year in FSEOG funding, but awards may be as little as $100 per year. The award received will depend on the time of application, the level of need, and the rules at each school’s financial aid office.
This is a new grant introduced during the 2006-2007 school year. Students who felt their merit-based aid opportunities were thwarted by grades that did not sufficiently reflect their abilities may receive some compensation. Up to $750 will be awarded to first-year undergraduates and up to $1,300 for second-year full-time undergraduates who have completed a difficult high school program. The state or local education agency is responsible for deciding which schools are deemed rigorous. For information on high school eligibility based on state, visit the Department of Education. As this is still a need-based grant program at heart, only students who were deemed needy enough for Pell Grants can receive Academic Competitiveness Grant money.
The National Science & Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant (National SMART Grant) is awarded to third and fourth-year college students. Students who major in the physical, life or computer sciences, math, technology, engineering or a foreign language determined to be essential to national security may be able to supplement Pell Grants with SMART Grants. Up to $4,000 per year may be awarded to each recipient. A more detailed list of eligible fields of study may be found here.
In addition to government grants, students may find school grants on their award letters. These, unlike the government grants, usually take academic achievement into account. Some may also consider a student’s financial need. To find out more about institutional grants offered at each college, students should visit their school website and conduct a scholarship and grant search at Scholarships.com.
Above is a list of grants students can receive by submitting their FAFSA, but students don’t need to stop there. Myriad scholarship and grant opportunities are available to them at Scholarships.com, and they aren’t restricted to undergraduates and those determined to be needy by government standards. To conduct a free scholarship and grant search, visit Scholarships.com, and find money for college.