What Are Grants For College? Here’s All You Should Know

what are grants for college
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Grants for college are a type of financial help that is rarely repaid. They cover a wide range of educational expenses, including tuition and fees, accommodation and board, and books and supplies.

Grants and scholarships are frequently referred to as “gift aid” or “free money for college,” but they are not the same thing. Scholarships are given out based on merit or talent, whereas grants are usually given out based on financial necessity, though merit can sometimes be considered.

When it comes to determining that need, the best thing to do is check into the many sorts of grants that are available. Here’s all you need to know.

What Are Grants For College?

Grants assist college students in covering their tuition and educational expenses. Grants are given to graduate and undergraduate students by government organizations, colleges, and private foundations.

The amount of the award, the qualifying restrictions, and the application process differ based on the grant. Students, for example, can qualify for government grants by completing the FAFSA. The FAFSA, institutional financial aid forms, the CSS Profile, and/or student applications are used by many universities to calculate institutional grants. To establish grant eligibility, states may use their own versions of the FAFSA.

While many grants are based on financial need, students may be eligible for merit-based grants as well. Many military and veteran grants, for example, do not require proof of financial need.

The Most Common College Grants For Students

Millions of college students rely on grants to help cover the cost of their education. The United States Department of Education awards four types of government grants. Furthermore, many state governments provide grants to residents, including merit and need-based grants.

Grants are used to entice students, and colleges distribute federal and state grant money through their financial assistance offices. Private and company grants are also used by some students to help pay for school.

#1. The Pell Grant

The Department of Education expects to distribute about $29.5 billion in Pell Grants during the fiscal year 2021, with 7.1 million students benefiting from the program.

The Pell Grant program will grant up to $6,495 to students who meet financial need requirements for the 2021–22 school year. The actual reward amounts may vary significantly from year to year, and applicants can qualify by completing the FAFSA annually.

Only qualifying undergraduates are eligible for the Pell Grant, and students can receive it for up to 12 terms, or six years. The Pell Grant is controlled and disbursed by a school’s financial assistance office.

Undergraduates with extreme financial need may also be eligible for a Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, which pays up to $4,000 per year in addition to Pell Grants.

#2. The TEACH Grant

Some grants provide customized financial assistance for specific professions. The Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant supports students pursuing a teaching degree with up to $4,000 per year.

This program is distinct from other grants in various respects. Graduate students, unlike Pell Grant recipients, are eligible for TEACH Grants. Additionally, the program exclusively funds students enrolled in recognized educator preparation programs.

TEACH Grants are also subject to job restrictions. After receiving their degree, recipients must commit to work at a low-income school in a high-need field. Recipients must return the grant as an unsubsidized federal loan if they do not complete four years of teaching within eight years of graduation.

#3. State Grants

States provide grants to college students in addition to federal grants such as the Pell and TEACH Grants.

Residents in California, for example, can apply for Cal Grants. The program assists college students in California who attend public institutions or eligible independent schools. Cal Grants, like Pell Grants, are only available to undergraduate students. The prize can be used to fund an associate degree, a bachelor’s degree, vocational training, or career training.

Meanwhile, Ohio gives the College Opportunity Grant to undergraduates who fulfill certain economic standards. Recipients must attend a college or institution in Ohio or Pennsylvania.

Many other states also provide specific grants. The Massachusetts Public Service Grant pays for college for the children and spouses of public employees slain in the course of duty.

State funding programs establish their own criteria. Most contain state residence requirements as well as proof of financial need. Most states need citizens to file the FAFSA in order to be eligible for state grants.

Undergraduates can learn about grant opportunities in their area by contacting the education department of their state. Keep in mind that in order to qualify, students must attend a college in their home state.

#4. Institutional Grants

To attract and retain students, several institutions provide financial help programs. According to the Urban Institute, institutions provide approximately 40% of undergraduate financial help.

The size of institutional grants varies greatly depending on the school. In 2015-16, around 16% of students at public community colleges received institutional grants. During the same time period, private four-year colleges provided grants to 81% of students. Grant funding at public four-year universities averaged $5,700 per student, while private colleges averaged $19,100 per student.

Each school’s financial assistance office administers its own grant program. As a result, depending on the school, the application procedure, qualifications, and grant amounts might vary greatly.

How to Get College Grants

Because the process takes time, make a strategy to collect all requirements before you begin. Here are the three fundamental stages that will get you there.

#1. Complete the FAFSA

All federal, state and certain school grants require the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, also known as the FAFSA. This information may also be required by some private grants. The application opens in October of the year before the start of classes. However, deadlines vary by school and state.

#2. Completing Additional Forms

States, schools, and private grants may all demand additional applications, such as the CSS Profile, so be careful to inquire and keep track of all deadlines.

#3. Gather Additional Information

Other paperwork, such as transcripts, letters of recommendation, and personal essays, are required for some grants. Determine what is required and begin a file to keep things organized.

Scholarships vs Grants

Grants and scholarships are both considered “gift” help that is not required to be repaid. There are, however, subtle variations between these two types of assistance.

Scholarships are often merit-based and are available from a variety of organizations, businesses, and schools. A college or university, for example, may provide full-ride scholarships to academic high achievers or excellent athletes. Businesses and organizations may also provide annual scholarships to students who match their criteria or who have unique abilities or hobbies.

Meanwhile, grants are often provided by the federal government, particular states, or the school of choice for an applicant. Grants are more likely to be awarded based on financial need, which means you may be ineligible if your household income exceeds a specific threshold.

Who Are Grants Meant For?

Grants are most effective for those who would be unable to finance higher education without outside assistance because they are often based on financial need. In contrast to merit-based aid, grants give priority to applicants with incomes below a specific level. Grants are also a better place to start than student loans, which can take a decade or more to repay once you graduate.

How Hard Is It To Get A College Grant?

Obtaining a college grant can be tough if your family’s finances do not satisfy the requirements. The United States Department of Education, in particular, provides three types of grants:

  • Discretionary grants offered to students through a competitive process.
  • Formulaic grants are given to all students who meet certain conditions without requiring an application.
  • Grants are awarded depending on financial necessity.

Each grant has its own set of conditions and application instructions. The Pell Grant, for example, is exclusively given to students who have “exceptional” financial need. Earning a state-based grant may also be impossible if you do not attend a local college. However, it is worthwhile to complete the FAFSA in any case; even if you do not qualify for the highest grants, your college or state may offer you something smaller.

Best Practices For Getting College Grants

#1. Apply as soon as possible.

Some grants and scholarships have a limited amount of money and are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. Early application boosts your chances of being considered before the funding runs out. Furthermore, because many state grants have application deadlines that differ from university entrance and financial aid deadlines, applying early might assist ensure that you have enough time to finish the application and gather all required materials before the deadline.

#2. Submit a Powerful Application

If a second application is required, make sure you have enough time to create one that stands out! A strong application necessitates careful planning, attention to detail, and a focus on your unique skills and experiences. To make your application stand out, carefully follow the rules, personalize it to the specific grant or scholarship, use clear and succinct language, and proofread it for errors.

3. Keep your grades up and make consistent progress toward your degree.

Eligibility for many need-based grants and scholarships is based on academic performance and a minimum enrollment status. Some grants, for example, may require a minimum GPA or that you maintain satisfactory academic progress. Maintaining strong grades can also qualify you for merit-based scholarship options as you progress through university.

#4. Research Scholarships from Outside the University

Begin your research as soon as possible to ensure that you have adequate time to find and apply for any suitable scholarships. Many internet resources, such as the U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid website, scholarship search engines, and grant database websites, can assist you in identifying grant programs. If you are a Crimson student, you can also access our verified internal materials via the Resource Center in your Crimson App. 

If you’re having trouble finding money outside of university, contact your school’s financial aid office or visit their financial aid website. The financial aid office at your school can be a helpful resource for locating scholarships that may be available to you based on your major and areas of interest. 

#5. Monitor the Status of Your Application

It is recommended that you wait a reasonable period of time after submitting your application before following up. Then, politely email or call the grant sponsor to inquire about the status of your application. You can inquire as to whether they have received your application, when the review process will begin, and when you might expect a response. Following up demonstrates that you are interested in and committed to the grant opportunity and might assist you in understanding where you stand in the process. Remember to communicate in a polite, professional, and respectful manner.

What is the Most Common College Grant?

The federal Pell Grant is the most well-known grant, but the federal government also distributes a few others for specific demographics. For 2023-24, the maximum Pell Grant is $7,395. Students may, and in many cases do, qualify for partial Pell Grants. This award is available to millions of students each year.

How Do Grants Work?

A grant is a non-repayable gift given to an individual or company. Grants often have three phases: pre-award, award, and post-award. Federal, state or regional, corporate, specialized, and startup grants are the five basic categories of grants for small enterprises.

How To Get Grants For College In Texas?

A student must be identified as a Texas resident by the university in order to be eligible for a TEXAS Grant award.

  • Be registered with or exempt from Selective Service.
  • Have a need for money, as judged by the institution.
  • You must be enrolled at least 3/4 time.
  • You do not have a baccalaureate degree.

What is the Largest Federal Grant To Universities?

In 2018, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services, gave $41 billion to colleges and institutions. This was the greatest investment in higher education made by any federal department that year.

What Does Grant Mean In Money?

A grant is “free money” provided to someone who meets particular conditions or utilizes it to complete a certain goal. A loan, on the other hand, is a sum of money borrowed from an individual or organization in exchange for future payback plus interest.

In Conclusion

Students can overcome the financial barriers that are sometimes linked with paying for college by applying for grants. Grants reduce out-of-pocket costs and prevent students from taking on too much student loan debt, even if they do not entirely cover tuition, books, fees, and other educational expenditures.

It is advisable to complete your FAFSA as soon as possible if you want to enhance your chances of receiving grants and other types of financial aid.

  1. STUDENT LOANS: How to Apply, Benefits, Rates & Federal Loans
  2. WHAT IS A GRANT: Best 2023 Guide and US Practices
  3. How To Apply For A Small Business Grant
  4. Pell Grant Income Limits: 2023 Best Practices & All You Need


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