September 4, 2007
by Paulina Mis
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.
Academic Competitiveness Grant
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.
National SMART Grant
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
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.