Zina Kumok Image Written By: Zina Kumok | Edited By: Kevin Ladd | Updated: July 1, 2024

Grants

Female student smiling and pointing to laptop computer screen with FSEOG grant info and pile of cash in background

How are Grants Different from Scholarships?

A grant is a sum of money given to a student to use for education-related expenses such as tuition, room and board, software and necessary equipment and more. Like scholarships, grants don’t have to be repaid after you graduate or leave school. Grants are typically awarded based on financial need, whereas scholarships are merit-based, recognizing students for their academic achievements, extracurricular involvement, field of study, and other accomplishments.

Continue reading the article below the scholarship list.

25 Grants with Approaching Deadlines

Federal Grant

The Department of Education offers several grants to college students. To qualify for any federal grant, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student (FAFSA). The FAFSA will ask for several kinds of information, including details about your family’s finances.

When you submit the FAFSA, you will be given a Student Aid Index (SAI) number. The SAI will be compared against the Cost of Attendance (COA) at the schools you’re interested in.

If your SAI is lower than the COA, then you will be eligible for need-based aid, including federal grants. But if your SAI is higher than the COA, then you will not qualify for need-based aid. However, you will still be eligible for federal student loans. You must submit the FAFSA by your school’s financial aid deadline to qualify for federal grants. School deadlines can vary so make sure you submit the FAFSA on schedule.

Pell Grant

The Pell Grant is one of the biggest grant programs in the country and is given to students who qualify based on need. For the 2023-24 school year, the Pell Grant ranges from $750 to $7,395, with the maximum amount adjusted every year or so. The amount you receive directly correlates to your SAI. If you have a relatively low SAI, then you may qualify for the maximum Pell Grant amount. But if you have a higher SAI, then you may only receive the minimum Pell Grant.

The amount will also depend on whether you're a full-time or part-time student. Full-time students will receive more in financial aid than part-time students. Only undergraduate students are eligible for the Pell Grant. You can only receive the Pell Grant for a maximum of 12 semesters or six academic years. Once you have hit that limit, you can no longer receive the Pell Grant, even if you’re still in need financially.

To have the Pell Grant renewed, you must be making sufficient academic progress. This may include taking a certain number of credit hours that count toward a degree. You may also have to keep a minimum GPA, usually a 2.0.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)

Similar to the Pell Grant, the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) is a need-based grant given to students whose SAI falls below a certain threshold. Unlike the Pell Grant, the FSEOG has a limited number of awards given to each school. The best way to increase the odds of getting the grant is to submit your FAFSA as soon as possible. Schools can determine the exact amount, which can range between $100 and $4,000 annually.

State Grants

Many states offer grants for local students who are attending college in-state. This is done to reward students who remain in their community during their college careers. Like federal grants, state grants may or may not have a need-based component. They may also have a specific GPA or test score requirement. Requirements vary wildly among different states. Some states will only provide grants to students attending local public universities, while others will provide grants for both public and private schools.

For example, the New York State Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) pays up to $5,665 annually if you’re a New York state resident attending school in the state of New York. However, there is an income limit so only students whose families fall below that threshold will qualify. Many states require that students complete the FAFSA to be eligible for their grants, and some may have their own separate applications that you must submit as well. Others will let you choose which application you want to complete. For example, California’s Cal Grant requires that you complete the FAFSA or the CA Dream Act application.

You can go here to find more information about your state’s grants. Make sure to look at the deadlines for each grant, because they can differ from state to state.

Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant

The Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant is designed to help teachers pay for their education. Students can receive up to $4,000 per year for four years of undergraduate study and up to $8,000 annually for graduate school.

This grant has a work component. After you graduate, you have to work four years in a high-need field which includes:

You have eight years to fulfill the four-year requirement. The school you attend must also be part of the TEACH Grant program. TEACH Grants are available for both undergraduate and graduate students. If you receive a TEACH Grant for both undergraduate and graduate school, you must fulfill two separate four-year stints. This award is one of the few federal grants that is available to graduate students.

Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant

This grant is given to students whose parents died in Iraq or Afghanistan after the events of 9/11. Your parent must have been a servicemember and died as a “result of military service.” They can also have worked as a public safety officer and died in the line of duty. You must also have been less than 24 years old when your parent died or enrolled in college at least part-time. The annual amount is directly tied to the Pell Grant, which has a maximum of $7,395 for the 2023-24 school year. You cannot receive both the Pell Grant and the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant. Only undergraduate students can receive this grant.

How to Apply for a Grant

Understand the eligibility requirements

Before you start working on a grant application, you should determine if you’re eligible. Eligibility can differ from grant to grant so don’t ever assume you qualify. Read through all the requirements and contact the grant administrator if you’re unclear about the rules.

Respect the deadline

Most grants have a strict deadline. If you miss it, you’ll be out of luck. And it’s often best to apply well ahead of the deadline. Some states don't have enough grant funding so awards are only given on a first-come, first-serve basis. If you meet the requirements, try to complete the application as soon as possible.

Grant FAQs

Can my grant eligibility change?

Grant eligibility can depend on several factors which can be out of your control. If you’re applying for a grant with a need-based component, then your financial need will be assessed every year when you apply. If your circumstances have improved, you may no longer be eligible for those grants.

For example, if one of your parents was unemployed when you first completed the FAFSA, then you may have qualified for a need-based grant. But if they are now steadily employed, you may no longer be eligible.

Some grants may also have a GPA component. If your GPA falls below that minimum, then you may not be eligible for the grant until your grades improve.

When receiving a grant, make sure you understand what the rules are and how to qualify for the grant again. A grant is one of the best ways to pay for school, and it would be a shame to lose it for completely avoidable reasons.

Do I ever have to repay a grant?

Grants are like scholarships and generally never have to be paid back. However, there are special circumstances when you may have to repay a grant.

For example, if you drop out of school shortly after receiving the Pell Grant, you may have to pay it back. If you change from a full-time to a part-time student, then your Pell Grant amount will be reduced.

Also, the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant requires that you fulfill basic service requirements after graduation. If you fail to meet those requirements, then the TEACH grant will be converted into a student loan that you must repay.

Do grants renew from year to year?

While some grants may be renewed for multiple years, others are only given on a one-time basis. Renewal may also depend on you meeting certain criteria.

For example, the Pell Grant depends on you having demonstrated financial need. If you no longer have any financial need, then you may not qualify for the Pell Grant. If your need changes, then you may receive a smaller Pell Grant than in years past.

What happens if I transfer schools?

If you transfer schools, your grant may or may not follow you. For example, If you're receiving a state-based grant and transfer to a school in a different state, then your grant likely won't transfer with you.

But if you’re getting a Pell Grant, you will likely still be eligible even if you attend a different school. That's because Pell Grants are determined based on your financial need, not where you’re attending school. The only time that your school would matter is if it is no longer part of the federal financial aid system.

Are there grant scams?

There are many financial aid scams that can cost students and their families hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Ignore anyone who says that they can get you a Pell Grant or any other kind of grant if you pay them a special fee.

The only way to qualify for a grant is to meet the eligibility criteria and complete the application on or before the due date.

Can I get a grant as a community college student?

Community college or technical students may still be eligible for federal and state grants. In fact, some grants are specifically designed for those in a two-year program.

For example, the Cal Grant Community College Entitlement Award is given to local California students who are attending community college in the state.

The federal Pell Grant is also available to community college students. However, because the Pell Grant is only given for 12 semesters, any time spent at a community college will be counted toward that amount. Students should be aware of that if they’re transferring to a four-year school later on.

What can I use grant funds for?

When you receive a grant, you can use the funds for education-related expenses including:

Most grant funds are sent directly to the school. If there is money leftover after it has been applied to your expenses, then you should receive a direct deposit in your bank account. You can use that money to buy books, pay for groceries or buy a campus parking pass.

Do I need a specific high school GPA to qualify for a grant?

While federal grants do not have a minimum GPA, some states may have their own academic requirements. For example, the Tennessee HOPE Scholarship has a 3.0 GPA minimum requirement. It also has a 21 ACT or 1080 SAT requirement.

Can older students qualify for grants?

Not everyone who attends college for the first time is a bright-eyed 18-year-old. There are many older adults who are going back to school - and many can still qualify for financial aid.

Like any other student, they should complete the FAFSA and any other applications if they’re attending school locally. Also, some states may even offer special grants for older adults who are getting their first degree. For example, Indiana’s Adult Student Grant is given to those who qualify as independent students on the FAFSA and getting their first bachelor’s or associate’s degree.