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Types of College Grants

Every year the search for college grants gets more intense. The cost of higher education has been steadily increasing, and available money is becoming more difficult to find. More students are in positions of needing college grants in order to begin or continue their education.

What are Grants for College?

A grant is money that is awarded to a student who has been accepted into an accredited education program post high school. Grants differ from loans in that they do not have to be repaid and are generally based on high academic performance, degree-specific program enrollment or financial need. The amount of grant money awarded can be in the low range of a couple hundred dollars to over $100,000.

There are two basic types of grants. Direct grants are given by the federal government and a student applies directly to the federal government for these grants. Pass-through grants are when a state applies for money from the federal government and the money is passed to the state. There are over 26 federal government agencies that offer over 1,000 grant programs. The federal agency most commonly known that awards grant money is the Department of Education.

Categories of College Grant Programs There are several different types of grants offered to students.

  • Federal Grants – grants that are provided by the federal government.

  • State Grants – money that individual states award to students who reside in that state. Money is awarded based on financial need, academic merit or specialized area of study.

  • Minorities Grants – African American, Latino, Asian and other groups identified as minorities can apply and receive grants if they qualify.
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  • Women Grants – these grants are awarded to help promote women in non-female traditional areas of study such as the sciences or mathematics.
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  • Student Specific Grants – these grants are for non-traditional students such as adults, low income, military and graduate programs.

\n\nTypes of College Grants

  • Pell Grant – the grant is the most popular grant and has awarding money since 1972. It provides money to low income students and generally is awarded to students in undergraduate programs, but is occasionally given to students in who are getting a graduate degree in a teacher certification program. Many students apply for and receive Pell Grants. Students can only receive one Pell Grant per year and the amount depends of available funding. The maximum amount awarded per student per year is around $5,500 based on need. If a student has a parent that died in the military in Afghanistan, Iraq or after 9/11 they are eligible to receive the full amount of the grant.
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  • Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant – these are campus-based programs awarded to students in undergraduate programs who have demonstrated financial needs. Priority is given to students who have been awarded Pell grants. The amount awarded is between $100 and $4,000. There are approximately one million students that are awarded this grant each year.
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  • Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant – This program offers grants up to students who want to teach in schools that are in areas that enroll low income families. A student that is awarded a TEACH Grant must agree to teach for at least four years after completing their studies and receiving a degree. If the student does not complete the four year teaching requirement the grant converts into a loan.
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  • State Grants – just about every state offers grant programs to students residing in that state. If a state has a lottery program much of the money from the lottery is earmarked for higher education grant programs. The monies awarded are also based on financial need, minority student categories, or study-based programs.
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  • Scholarships – while not technically considered grants, scholarships do not have to be repaid by the student. Many colleges and organizations have scholarship programs that offer merit-based monies to help a student with college expenses. There are scholarships for many areas and should be researched by students as part of a total financial package.

\n\nMany top-ranked universities and colleges are responding to the growing needs of students and are increasing the number of grants they offer to students. These prestigious schools have higher endowment monies, and Harvard and Yale actually have the most generous financial aid packages for students.

All students applying for any federal college grants begin the process by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid Form (FAFSA).