Students have access to grants and other funding sources at every post-secondary education level. Funding needs change as you progress through education and there are many financial aid opportunities to help pay for more tuition. Grants for undergraduates are based on financial need and grants for advanced degrees are based more on an area of study. If you have exhausted your grant options, apply for scholarships. Conduct a free scholarship search to get extra funding for all degrees.
Like scholarships, most grants target undergraduates. To get federal funding, you must fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. The FAFSA determines eligibility for need-based grants like the Pell Grant and the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant. To avoid taking out student loans, apply for grants early and often. Also apply for outside scholarships, because eligibility does not guarantee federal funding. Grant awards change annually, and are set by the government.
If you are targeting a particular field of study, talent, or athletic program, look for grants that specifically for that interest. Professional organizations also offer awards. Most of the awards are need-based like federal awards. Some consider community service and academic merit. Academic grants and college-based grants are also popular. For example, The University of Notre Dame has an Undergraduate Research and Teaching Opportunity Program for summer students interested in independent research and creative projects. If you are passionate about a particular field, notify your college because they can offer grants that are not on your FAFSA.
Grants for graduate students are harder to find but are very generous, especially in research-related fields. For example, the The Geological Society of America offers grants for graduate and professional students in geological research. Also, government agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency funds research in environmental studies and human health. Grants for advanced degrees typically fund more than the cost education. This includes internships, career-advancement opportunities and research positions to boost a resume. There are great opportunities for low-income students, women, and minorities. For example the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development funds low-income graduate pursuing careers in community planning and development. Grants for advanced degrees are usually awarded by your intended college/university, but there are a few federal grant opportunities. If you’re getting a PhD, look for assistantships and fellowships that have full-rides at your school or in your program.
If you’re an adult returning to school after working professionally, check with your employer for funding opportunities. Some private companies and large corporations offer scholarship and grant opportunities for employees looking to further their educations. Some employers even offer promotions after completing the program. If you participate in a company scholarship or grant program, expect to work for that company after graduation.
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