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Career Specific Grants

Grants awarded to students interested in pursuing a particular career have become more common as the need for new hires in certain categories has increased. Nurses and teachers, for example, have a wealth of opportunities available to them when it comes to career specific grants, especially if they’re interested in working in areas where there are nurse or teacher shortages. For more information on these grant awards, contact your local student assistance commission or your college’s financial aid office, as both should have a wealth of information for those interested in learning more about which fields are not only in demand job-wise, but which could net you significant savings on your college education. If you’re unsure about a career choice and going into college undecided, looking into which fields are constantly in need of new graduates could be a wise move. For information about scholarships and grants based on other criteria, conduct a free scholarship search to cast a wide net for funding you may not even know you’re eligible for. Below, we give you some examples on how your choice of career could help you pay for school.

From the Government

Most of the grants you’ll receive on the federal level will be through the results of your Free Application for Student Aid, or FAFSA. These will be need-based awards, although a minimum GPA may also be a requirement. Read the fine print when applying for and before accepting any grant award, as something may be required of you post-graduation, such as years of service.

The federally-funded Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant Program provides grants of up to $4,000 to students who intend to teach in low-income, high-need school districts. High-need fields of study include the foreign language, special education, math and science, among others. If students receive the grant and then choose not to pursue the above, the TEACH Grant will be turned into a Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan.

Grants targeting nursing students include the Nursing Scholarship Program through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which rewards would-be nurses with a monthly stipend and covers the costs of tuition and fees in exchange for two years of service at a health care facility where there is a nursing shortage.

The National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent (SMART) Grants provide up to $4,000 for each of your third and fourth years if you major in a list of eligible fields of study like math, science technology or engineering. Eligible recipients must already be Pell recipients, and show that they have high enough need to qualify for grant funding beyond their Pell award. Students must also have a minimum GPA of 3.0, and have at least one class in an eligible field of study the year the grant would be awarded.

If you plan on staying in state for school, you could also be eligible for grants from your state if you’re going into a field that is particularly in demand locally. The Illinois Future Teacher Corps (IFTC) Program, for example, is available to juniors and above who want to be teachers in Illinois, especially in districts with high teacher turnover rates.

From Your School

If you know exactly what you’d like to be doing after you graduate, consider approaching colleges that specialize in certain fields, or making sure you investigate all of the grant possibilities at your intended college. Many schools, including community and technical colleges, have grant funds set up by specific departments, or funding set up by alumni in certain fields that you may be interested in. The University of Minnesota's Women's Center offers grants to not only students but faculty and staff interested in the field of women’s studies and enhancing the campus climate for women through special projects.

If you’re pursuing an advanced degree, you could have the option of pursuing a research grant or fellowship in your desired field. Grants for advanced degrees will often not only fund your education, but help pay for internships, career-advancement opportunities and research positions that will give you valuable experience and a resume boost once you complete your program. Santa Clara University’s Law School, for example, has several Social Justice Grants that provide students and alumni with funding opportunities for doing things like working in summer public interest positions as volunteers or for low pay.

There are many outside organizations that aim to expand college opportunities for students pursuing certain fields of study through grants and scholarship programs, so make sure contacting local groups is on your list of things to do. While some will require you to pay it forward by working in that field of study for several years after you graduate, others only want you to complete a degree in that field. The Institute of Museum and Library Services department of the National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities has a number of grant opportunities for not only supporting the nation’s library systems, but to recruit and educate the next generation of students entering the library science profession. The National Association of Black Journalists provides grants for black student journalists who are also members of their professional organization. It could be worth joining the local organization of the field you’re interested in if it means you have a better shot at landing free money for college.

If you’re looking for an advanced degree and are already in the working world, contact your employer. Chances are there are funding opportunities there that you may not have known about, although you may be asked to remain with the company for several years after you’re done with your advanced coursework. Employers want you to expand your skill sets so that you’re more valuable and productive at their company, so why not let them foot the bill if you like your job and want to take some professional development classes?

From Outside Organizations

There are many outside organizations that aim to expand college opportunities for students pursuing certain fields of study through grants and scholarship programs, so make sure contacting local groups is on your list of things to do. While some will require you to pay it forward by working in that field of study for several years after you graduate, others only want you to complete a degree in that field. The Institute of Museum and Library Services department of the National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities has a number of grant opportunities for not only supporting the nation’s library systems, but to recruit and educate the next generation of students entering the library science profession. The National Association of Black Journalists provides grants for black student journalists who are also members of their professional organization. It could be worth joining the local organization of the field you’re interested in if it means you have a better shot at landing free money for college.

If you’re looking for an advanced degree and are already in the working world, contact your employer. Chances are there are funding opportunities there that you may not have known about, although you may be asked to remain with the company for several years after you’re done with your advanced coursework. Employers want you to expand your skill sets so that you’re more valuable and productive at their company, so why not let them foot the bill if you like your job and want to take some professional development classes?

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