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Federal Grants Available

Updated on May 4, 2013

Grants vs Loans

Because so many of us are experiencing financial hardship, I felt it was important to discuss Federal grants. Unfortunately all this knowledge came too late for me who took out an $8,000.00 loan to attend school with a promise that it would be a tax write off. That graduate schooling was not a qualified write off per my tax accountant, so I had to eat the cost. Perhaps this knowledge might help you to avoid a similar situation.

Even so, if you do not qualify for a grant another option is to take out a school loan. Loans can also be used to fund your undergraduate and graduate education. Be advised loans accrue interest and need to be repaid. Some of these student loans are:

  • The Graduate Stafford Loan.
  • The Perkins Loan.

So before you get involved with a school loan to improve your education or in hopes of getting employment or improving your marketability, you should pursue a grant. Grants are based on your financial need.

It is important to note that TEACH Grants, Federal Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG), Academic Competitiveness Grants and National SMART Grants may have to be repaid if you do not follow through with graduation. You may not have to pay back the entire grant, but you most likely willy have to repay at least part of the Federal grant that was awarded to you. When repayment is required, these grants are assigned to the Department for collection so your credit may take a hit. Usually you only have to repay if:

· You received an over award payment

· You withdrew from the eligibility program before graduation.

Thus, if you decide to return to school or begin schooling be sure to chat with a counselor and select a course you can stick with!

Grant Program and Eligibility

Here are some Grant options to pursue:

Need Based Grants are free sources of grant money that students receive based on their financial need. Although most people require help to pay for college some students come from very low income families which prevents them from being able to afford to attend school without financial help. Need based grants are provided to students whose family income is below a set threshold determined by the federal government. The benefits of need-based grant are:

  • You are not required to pay them back, unlike student loans.
  • Your family income increases whilst you are at school, the next time you apply for need-based grants, you may receive less than the previous year and vice versa.
  • You remain in college for the duration of the study program or If a student drops out of college or reduces their college credit hours during the academic year, they may be required to pay back some or all the need-based grant money they received.

Begin by completing a FAFSA application

Pell Grants are awarded usually only to students who have not earned a bachelor's or a professional degree. To be eligible for a Pell grant, you must also meet the general federal student aid eligibility requirements:

  • Demonstrate financial need (except for certain loans). Federal Pell Grant, provides students with grants for school if their families’ annual income is below $50,000
  • Have a high school diploma or a General Education Development (GED) certificate, pass an ability-to-benefit (ATB) test approved by the U.S. Department of Education, meet other standards your state establishes that the Department approves, complete a high school education in a home school setting that is treated as such under state law, or have satisfactorily completed six credit hours or the equivalent course work toward a degree or certificate.
  • Be enrolled or accepted for enrollment as a regular student working toward a degree or certificate in an eligible program. Note: You might be able to receive aid for distance education courses as long as they are part of a recognized certificate or degree program.
  • Be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen.
  • Have a valid Social Security Number.
  • Register with the Selective Service if required. You can use the paper or electronic FAFSASM to register, you can register at, or you can call 1-847-688-6888. (TTY users can call 1-847-688-2567.)
  • Maintain satisfactory academic progress once in school.
  • Certify that you are not in default on a federal student loan and do not owe money on a federal student grant.
  • Certify that you will use federal student aid only for educational purposes.

For More Information -

National SMART Grant [National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant] is awarded in addition to the student's Pell Grant. National Smart Grant is available during the third and fourth years and will provide up to $4,000 for each of the third and fourth years of undergraduate study. Eligibility requires:

  • be Pell Grant-eligible during the same award year.
  • be enrolled at least half-time.
  • be in the third or fourth year of an undergraduate degree program (or fifth year of a five-year program).
  • be pursuing a major in physical, life, or computer sciences, mathematics, technology, engineering or a critical foreign language; or non-major single liberal arts programs/
  • have at least a 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale as of the end of the second award year and continue to maintain a 3.0 GPA that must be checked prior to the beginning of each payment period (e.g., semester).

Academic Competitiveness Grants provides $750 for the first year of study and $1,300 for the second year. Note: The amount of the ACG, when combined with a Pell Grant, may not exceed the student's cost of attendance. To be eligible for each academic year, a student must:

  • be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen.
  • be a Federal Pell Grant recipient.
  • be enrolled at least half-time in a degree program.
  • be a first or second-year undergraduate student or a student in a certificate program of at least one year in a degree program at a two-year or four-year degree-granting institution.
  • have completed a rigorous secondary school program of study (after January 1, 2006, if a first-year student, and after January 1, 2005, if a second-year student).
  • if a first-year student — not have been previously enrolled in an ACG-eligible program while at or below age of compulsory school attendance; or if a second-year student — have at least a cumulative 3.0 grade point average (GPA) on a 4.0 scale as of the end of the first year of undergraduate study. -

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant [FSEOG Grant]:

  • The program awards money to the students who have the lowest Expected Family Contribution on the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).
  • Expected Family Contribution is figured based on a variety of things, including family size, income level, and net assets.

Begin by completing a FAFSA application

Minority Grants are awarded based on minority status. Minority Grants are offered to people based on:

  • Their ethnic status: African-Americans, Native Americans or Hispanic Americans.
  • Women are also considered a minority.
  • Minority grants are awarded based on financial need.

Begin by completing a FAFSA application

Corporate Grants - Major corporations also often offer grants. Because corporations must promote diversity, they may be looking for minority participants to play a part in the grant program. While these are not minority specific grants, the chances of getting one as a minority are quite high.

Disabled Student Grants are awarded based on students physical handicaps or disability. Many grants are established especially for specific disabilities and come from organizations that are outstanding supporters:

  • National Federation for the Blind - a variety of scholarship and grant awards for blind students.
  • Jewish Guild for the Blind - grants available for undergraduate students.
  • National Association of the Deaf - scholarships and grants for graduate students.
  • Begin with your school's Disabilities Support Services, ask for the brochure, "Financial Aid for Students with Disabilities."

TEACH Grants - The Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant programs

  • Offers help to students who will agree to teach and tutor students from high need areas in exchange for educational funding.
  • Require completion of a TEACH Grant form with Subsequent Counseling, plus A TEACH Grant Agreement to Serve (ATS).

Graduate and Doctoral Grants - Many colleges, universities and private organizations offer college grants for graduate students and doctoral candidates. Applicants for Master's and Doctoral grant programs offer help to students who will agree to teach and tutor students from high need areas in exchange for educational funding.

  • Project Reach Program at the University of Phoenix offers Masters Degree in Education funding for those who agree.

Department of Veteran’s Affairs, offers financial assistance to students wanting a doctoral grant in Health Rehabilitation, Psychology, Women’s Health, and Health Informatics.


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