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What is a Student Grant and Who Qualifies?

by Grants.com
A student grant is a need-based form of financial aid given to college students to help pay for their college expenses. The money can be used in paying tuition, fees, room and board, books, and anything else students may need money for.

Grants are similar to scholarships, because this is money that does not have to be paid back, unlike a student loan. Unlike scholarships, however, grants are solely need-based, rather than merit-based. Grants were created to allow for students from lower income families to be able to attend college.

In order to find out if you qualify for a student grant, you will need to first fill out an online FAFSA form, which stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This form uses the student's family's annual income along with any college savings they may have to determine the student's EFC, or Expected Family Contribution.

The grant amount given is determined by using the total cost of attending a particular college for one year. The estimated cost of attendance is determined by adding up the total cost of living for a year, so it is not just tuition and fees, but also room and board (meaning rent and food), books, and everything else such as bills and travel expenses. For public universities, this could be around $20,000 for in-state students and between $30,000 and $40,000 for out-of-state students.

After the estimated costs of attendance is determined, the student's EFC is deducted from this amount. Then, the amount already awarded in scholarships is also deducted. Is there is still something left after this, it is generally awarded to the student in the form of a grant. Sometimes the student and their parents do not really feel they actually do have the money to afford their EFC as determined by their FAFSA form, so all students do have the option of taking out a student loan to pay for this portion.

Who qualifies for a student grant depends on which university the student is attending. For most colleges, in order to be eligible for a student grant, the student's family's annual income must be under a certain amount. On average, this is around $60,000. This means that only families with a total annual income of less than $60,000 would be eligible for a grant.

Fill out an online FAFSA form today to see if you qualify for a student grant.