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State-Sponsored Grants

As with state sponsored scholarships, state sponsored grants will be awarded either directly by your college or state-based program to help you fund your college education. State sponsored grants will often recognize need as a criterion, although there are many that look at specific student characteristics, such as whether a student is a minority, or a student’s intended field of study. State sponsored grants based on merit will look at a student’s academic achievement in high school, a high GPA and impressive standardized test scores, while state-based organizations may award grants based simply on a student’s association with a particular group. Contact state-based educational organizations, local higher education assistance foundations, your high school and your intended college for up-to-date state-based grant opportunities. Many scholarships are also grouped by state, and easily found through our scholarship search.

Fund Your Future

Most colleges will have grant and scholarship funds set up that disperse awards only to students attending that college. Grants from your college, especially if it’s a state college, will often consider need before any other student-specific characteristics. The Michigan Educational Opportunity Grant, modeled after the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, is restricted to eligible Michigan residents enrolled at least half-time on Michigan campuses who are also Pell Grant recipients. Recipients of the California Student Aid Commission’s Cal Grants may get up to $9,700 a year to pay for college expenses at any qualifying California college, university or career or technical school in California.

Most of these state sponsored grants will require that you fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, to determine whether you’re eligible as many will be need-based. Chances are if you quality for the Federal Pell Grant, which is the most popular federal grant among undergraduates, you’ll be eligible for a state sponsored grant through your college.

Consider Your Local Options

If you plan on staying in state for school, you could be eligible for grants from your state, especially if you’re going into a field that is particularly in demand locally. Be aware that state sponsored grants that are also career specific may require that you remain in that state for several years after you graduate, as your "thanks" for receiving an often generous award package. If you’re not sure where you’d like to be after you graduate, weigh you options carefully before accepting a grant with those kinds of requirements, as the free money you receive may become a student loan if you don’t follow through with your end of the deal.

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. Priority is given to individuals pursuing a teacher shortage discipline, making a commitment to teach at a hard-to-staff school, and minority applicants. Qualified applicants of this grant may receive between $5,000 and $10,000 depending on the teaching commitment made. If the commitment to teach in Illinois isn’t fulfilled, however, the scholarship converts to a loan.

The North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority provides awards to hundreds of aspiring nurses annually as part of its Nurse Scholars Program to address the nursing shortage in the state. The renewable award is merit-based, and the amount of the award is based upon the type of nursing education being pursued. Students seeking an associate’s, for example, may be eligible for up to $3,000. Students must plan to enter a nursing program at one of the North Carolina colleges, universities, or hospitals that offer nurse education programs, and also sign a contract to work as a registered nurse in North Carolina post-graduation.

Don’t stop at state sponsored grants when looking locally to fund your college education. There are also many state scholarships out there. While some, like grants, require residence and employment in that state after you graduate if you go for a career-specific grant, many only require that you attend their colleges and universities. Browse through our list of state scholarships to see awards you may qualify for, and try a free scholarship search to see awards based on other criteria that you may qualify for.

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