Due to college’s rising costs, it’s almost impossible to pay for your education out of pocket unless you have a lot of money saved up. Instead of waiting for those savings to accumulate, you can use other means of funding, such as student loans, scholarships, and grants.
Student loans have made the news lately due to the deep debt many recent graduates have sitting on their shoulders. While they have that much-desired degree, some graduates face tens of thousands of dollars in debt that strain their monthly budgets. That’s why if you’re looking for funding for your college education, it’s best to look elsewhere first.
Are scholarships a solid avenue to explore? Definitely, but grants may be even better since they can come with easier requirements, and, unlike student loans, you won’t have to pay them back.
Although you can find college grants from your state, the university you hope to attend, and other organizations, let’s look at how to find them from the federal government.
Different Types of Federal Government Grants
When you first start looking for grants, there’s no better place to begin than Uncle Sam. Why? Because the federal government has loads of grant opportunities, and they’re usually easier to attain than more obscure avenues.
To begin, you’ll want to bookmark this page. It’s the U.S. Department of Education’s page dedicated to grants, and it’s loaded with helpful info to help you during your quest for free college money.
Next, you should complete the FAFSA form by going here. It’s the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, and it helps determine your need for grants to kickstart the process.
With that essential step out of the way, now it’s time to start looking at federal government grants themselves. Here’s a quick breakdown of some of the most popular options:
1. Federal Pell Grant
You’ll probably run across this name several times during your search due to its popularity. Given to students based on financial need, qualifying for the Pell Grant could net you over $6,000 per year.
2. Academic Competitiveness Grant
While the Pell Grant can give your college-bound bank account a nice bump, this grant can pad your finances even more.
You’ll need to qualify for the Pell Grant first. If you do and you are studying in an area of critical need, such as engineering, math, technology, science, etc., you could receive $750 as a freshman and $1,300 as a sophomore.
3. National SMART Grant
While the grant above offers financial aid during your first two college years, this one continues to fund your dream during your junior and senior years. The SMART Grant is worth as much as $4,000 per year.
4. Study Abroad Grants
There’s no better way to broaden your college experience than by going overseas. Two federal college grants that help fund this venture include the Benjamin A. Gilman Award and the Boren Awards for International Study.
Are these the only federal grants for college? No, which is why you should read up on them and start looking for even more to ensure your education is as affordable as possible.