American Hope Resources - Help & Assistance Programs

A Quick Look At How Federal College Grants Work

Uncle Sam can make going to school less expensive. Here’s a glimpse at how federal grants can give you some much-needed cash for college.

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You probably know that the federal government offers assistance when it comes to housing, food, and healthcare. What about college, though? Can it help pay for that too? It sure can via federal grants, and here are some commonly asked questions on the topic.

Where Can You Get College Grants?

While we’ll focus on federal grants in this article, college grants can come from numerous sources.

One step below the federal level are state grants. After that come grants from career schools or colleges that use that free money to entice students to sign up. Private organizations and nonprofits also offer grants that can reduce the cost of continuing education.

Where Do Federal Grants Come From?

The U.S. Department of Education is in charge of federal grants. You can learn more about their role in the process by going to their official site.

How Do Grants Compare To Scholarships or Student Loans?

Many people mix up grants, scholarships, and student loans. Even worse, some group them all together as if they are the same thing.

A grant is a financial award that you can use to pay for tuition and other expenses related to your advanced education. Grants are typically based on a person’s financial need, but merit can be included in the decision process.

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Scholarships are similar to grants. They can sometimes be harder to attain if they’re primarily merit-based, which is why grants may be a more attractive option to fund your education.

In most cases, you do not have to pay grants or scholarships back. In other words, it’s as if you’re receiving free money or a gift towards your schooling. Compare this to student loans that must be paid back with interest, and it’s no wonder why most students are eager to get as many grants and scholarships as possible.

If you begin to stack grants and scholarships, you may be able to get your degree and start your professional career debt-free.

What Does It Take To Qualify for a Federal College Grant?

Since grants are usually need-based, you’ll need to complete and submit your FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form. Doing so does two crucial things. First, it shows schools your level of financial need. Second, that information opens you up to receive grant opportunities from schools that you are interested in.

Can You Spend Grant Money How You Please?

While grants are essentially free money, many come attached to specific rules you must follow. Depending on the grant, you may be limited to how and where that money is spent.

Are There Any Cases Where You Have To Pay Grants Back?

If you do not follow a grant’s rules, it may have to be paid back. For instance, if you decide to go to school part-time, you may have to pay back a grant you won that was intended for full-time students. Getting other financial aid may also impact your grant status, so be sure to know all the details when applying.

Eric Tomasso