Federal grants are a great way of financing education for students. Different types of grants are available to you. However, before we get into the types, let us discuss some important details, such as:
How are grants different from loans?
You may consider both grants and scholarships as free money that can finance your higher education path. But as in the case of student loans, you won’t have to pay back the amount the federal government rewards you. Even so, we’ll discuss exceptional situations where that might not be true below.
How are need-based grants different from merit-based grants?
Generally, you’ll see two types of grants. The first, need-based, is for students whose family’s economic situation doesn’t allow them to pursue higher education. If you avail this type of grant, you will receive a specific amount after the government determines the extent of your need. A chief component of the determination criteria is the EFC or Expected Family Contribution. Your school takes into consideration how much funds – if any – your family can contribute. This amount is the EFC.
A merit-based college grant, on the other hand, has usually nothing to do with financial need. It is given to students who show exceptional performance in academic achievement, for instance. Or, it can be for students who perform community service with extreme dedication. A merit-based grant can be also a reward to a student displaying excellent leadership skills. If you fit any of the criteria we have mentioned, we’d recommend looking for grants specifically given out for that purpose.
Under what conditions could you have to repay a federal grant?
You may need to partially or wholly repay a federal grant under the following conditions:
- Withdrawing from the study program earlier than for the period that the grant was given to you
- Changing your enrollment status in a manner that reduces your grant eligibility. For instance, due to switching from attending school full-time to part-time.
- Receiving – and not declaring – other scholarships or grants outside of the federal grant. That means your need for aid has reduced.
- Not meeting the obligations that are stipulations of the TEACH Grant. For instance, receiving the grant means you have to teach for a certain period without fail.
Are there cases of grant overpayment?
It can happen from time to time. If you face the situation, you may depend on your school to notify you. Just pay the amount extra to your grant. But take care because you will only have 45 days to do so. Should your circumstances not allow you to do that, you can contact the relevant department and enter into a satisfactory repayment arrangement. Not doing either can get you blacklisted from all future federal grant options.
What can I do to maintain the grant?
As you will note during your research, different grants have different stipulations. Therefore, look up the requirements beforehand and ensure that you can meet them. We’d advise copying them down and placing the note where it is easily accessible.
Types of Federal Grants
The Federal Pell Grant
Considered highly popular, this federal grant is given to undergraduates without a bachelor’s or professional degree. Are you a first-time graduate student? Then you may be also eligible for Pell grants, so do your research!
The amount of maximum award is different each year and depends on the funds that the federal government has to distribute. The FAFSA decides how much of the grant money you are eligible for. In many cases, this grant may be given to students who come from families with an annual income of $50,000 or less. However, it is mostly reserved for students whose total family income falls below $20,000.
The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)
Fortunately, the same conditions that make you eligible for the Pell Grant will also allow you to qualify for the FSEOG. Another grant aimed at undergraduates who can prove that their extreme financial need remains unmet. If you are eligible, you could receive between $100 and $4,000.
While the federal government gives this money to colleges, the latter must contribute a dollar each for every three dollars of federal money to be a part of the program. Be aware that not all schools participate in the FSEOG.
Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants
Are you a student whose parent or guardian died in the military service? If the event took place after September 11, 2001, and in either Iraq or Afghanistan, you may be approved for this grant option.
Students who agree that they will give back by teaching for a specific period may avail this grant. The stipulations are that you must teach in a high-need field, such as the STEM field, for four years. Whether you choose to do it by working at an educational service agency, elementary school, or secondary school depends on you. The grant aims to educate students hailing from low-income families.
Applying for Federal College Grants
Before consideration for any federal grant, students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid first. Submit it – either as hard copy or online – and you’ll be in the running. Remember to submit before both the Federal and State deadlines.
How will you know if the government got your application? They send you a Student Aid Report by mail telling you that. In the report, you will also see the total cost of your education. Any amount that you must contribute will also be mentioned along with which Federal aid types you qualify for. The schools you mention in your FAFSA will also get a copy of the SAR. If they are interested in admitting you, the school of your choice will prepare a financial aid package. You can compare the options and choose the one that suits you.
Do you want to apply for a federal grant? Are you unsure which one to aim at? Then contact us, and we will discuss all the available options. We’d suggest doing that as early as possible, or you could miss the State and Federal deadlines!