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Grants By Degree Level

Students at all stages of their education have access to grants and other funding sources to help cover the costs of their undergraduate and advanced degrees. Your needs for funding will change as you progress from one degree to another, and there are many opportunities out there to assist you in coming up with ways to pay for an often daunting tuition bill. Grants for undergraduates will often come as a result of your financial aid application, while grants for advanced degrees will often be closely linked to your chosen field of study. If you’re still at a loss for funding and have exhausted your options for grants by degree level, remember that scholarships are free money too, and that a free scholarship search could net you quite a bit of funding regardless of the degree you’re pursuing.

Grants For Undergraduates

Much like scholarships, most grants target undergraduates. Many of these will also be federal grants, which require filling out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, to determine whether you’re eligible for the most popular needs-based grants like the Federal Pell and Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants. High school students relying on scholarships and grants to cover tuition not addressed through student loans should apply to those funding sources early and often, as there is no guarantee you’ll receive any grant funding even if you’re found eligible for a particular need-based grant. Funding levels for those awards vary annually, and there is a set amount disbursed by colleges and the government each year.

Incoming freshmen with a better idea of what they would like to study, or who have a particular talent they’ll be pursuing on the college level, may be eligible for other grants specific to their field of study or characteristics. Professional organizations may be particularly generous when it comes to funding deserving undergraduates, and while many of these awards will be need-based like the federal awards, some will consider other factors like your community service record and academic achievements. Grants based on your abilities in the classroom are particularly common as college-based grants targeting undergraduates. The University of Notre Dame, for example, has an Undergraduate Research and Teaching Opportunity Program that rewards summer session students interested in independent research and creative projects. If you have a passion in a particular field, make sure you tell your college, as there could be funding options for you to explore that won’t show up on your FAFSA.

Grants For Advanced Degrees

Grants for graduate students are harder to find than awards for undergraduates, but are often very generous, especially if you’re pursuing a field of study that involves research. 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. The Geological Society of America, for example, funds graduates grants for master’s and doctoral these research in the geological sciences. Women, minorities and students with disabilities are particularly encouraged to apply. Government agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency (funding available for those interested in the environment and human health) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (funding available for low-income graduate students pursuing careers in community planning and development) will have grant opportunities available. Many of the grants for advanced degrees will also be awarded by your intended college or university, and if you’re particularly motivated and pursuing a PhD, you could be rewarded through not only generous grants, but assistantships and fellowships as well that could lead to a free ride at the school you’re attending.

If you’re an adult returning to school after a long hiatus, check with your employer. Often, private companies will offer scholarship and grant opportunities for employees looking to further their educations with master’s degrees and beyond, and may even offer a pay bump after completing the program. Such programs usually require repayment in the form of service though – if you take money from a particular company or organization, expect to work for them once you’re done with your degree for a set period of time. It could be worth it for an essentially free advanced degree.

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