Grants By Degree Level
At every education level, students have access to grants and other funding sources to help cover the cost of undergraduate and advanced degrees. Funding needs change as you progress in education and degree level, and there are many opportunities in financing daunting tuition bills. Grants for undergraduates will correspond to financial aid applications, while grants for advanced degrees are closely linked with field of study/degree. If you have exhausted your grant options, remember that scholarships are free money as well, and that a free scholarship search could net you quite a bit of funding, regardless of the degree you’re pursuing.
Much like scholarships, most grants target undergraduates. Many are federal grants, which require filling out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, to determine eligibility 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 in receiving any grant funding even if you’re eligible. Funding levels for such awards vary annually, and there is a yearly set amount disbursed by colleges and the government.
Incoming freshmen with a better idea of what they would like to study, or who want to pursue a particular talent at the collegiate level, may be eligible for other grants specific to their field of study or characteristics. Professional organizations may be particularly generous when funding deserving undergraduates, and while many of these awards will be need-based like the federal awards, some will strongly consider community service and academic achievements. Grants based academic abilities are particularly common as much as college-based grants for undergraduates. The University of Notre Dame, for example, has an Undergraduate Research and Teaching Opportunity Program that rewards summer students interested in independent research and creative projects. If you have a passion in a particular field, notify your college, as there could be funding options that will not show 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 in research-related fields. Grants for advanced degrees will typically fund more than the education- including internships, career-advancement opportunities and research positions that will give you valuable experience and a resume boost post-graduation. The Geological Society of America, for example, funds graduates grants for master’s and doctoral 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 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 increased salary or promotion after completing the program. Such programs generally require repayment in the form of service – if you take money from a particular company or organization, you may be expected to work for them post-graduation.
Last Edited: November 2015
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