In these trying times, earning money is challenging. And if you’re still a student, the challenge might be even greater. So, you need financial aid like student loans, scholarships, or grants. But which one should you choose?
You can cross out student loans because you still need to pay for them even after you’ve finished your studies. If you want free money, you can choose between a scholarship and grant. Once you have completed your course, you are no longer required to pay your funding agency. Though it may sound too good to be true, you can get a scholarship or a grant. The question is, how to get grants for college?
Grants for College versus Scholarships
When you are processing your college application, you may want to get funding for your tuition. You can have either scholarships or grants, but which one should you choose?
Similarities and Differences Between Grants for College and Scholarships
Grants for college and scholarships are equivalent to money that helps you pay for your education. In contrast to student loans, grants and scholarships are free. That means you are not required to pay back the funding agency. However, if you withdraw early from a program or change your enrollment status, you have to settle all or some of your expenses.
Scholarships can be based on needs or merits. They are given out depending on a specific skill. For example, students may receive scholarships based on their athletic skills, musical talent, religion, creativity, and other criteria. By comparison, grants for college are needs-based. They are offered to low-income undergraduate students, who must prove that they need financial aid to get grants.
If you think a grant is more suitable for your needs, you have to know which type of grant is right for you. But searching for the right program or organization can be overwhelming.
Types of Grants
Where do you get grants? Grants can be provided by any of the following:
- Federal government
- State government
- College or career school
- Private or nonprofit organization
Specifically, the United States Department of Education (ED) offers various federal grants. These grants are given to students enrolled in schools. Here are the federal grants that you can apply for:
- Federal Pell Grants: This type of grant is usually given to undergraduate students only. These students need financial aid and have no bachelor’s, graduate, or professional degree.
- Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG): This type of grant is given directly by financial aid offices of participating schools to undergraduate students.
- Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants: This type of grant is offered to students whose parents or guardians died in military service in Iraq or Afghanistan.
- Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grants: This type of grant is awarded to students who comply with a given condition— that they must complete a teaching service obligation. If this condition is not met, this grant is converted to a loan. When this happens, you must repay the expenses plus interest.
Educational Assistance Grant: What You Need to Know
As school expenses increase, getting a college degree becomes challenging. In addition, going to school is costly. As such, students apply for educational assistance grants, which are given by various federal agencies for free. But students must meet the requirements specified by granting institutions. When you have completed your course, you don’t have to pay them back.
Although federal agencies or granting institutions have unique criteria, they have the following general requirements:
- Filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form: Students should fill out their FAFSA form. This provides financial aid programs based on the condition that students and parents can pay for their education depending on their ability.
- Calculating the expected family contribution (EFC): EFC is the expected amount that students and their family must pay. It is compared with the actual educational costs. And if the costs exceed the EFC, students are considered eligible for need-based financial aid.
- Renewing the application every year: Students must apply for need-based programs each year they are enrolled in their school. They should submit their applications before the deadline.
How to Get Grants for College
This brings us to the crux of the matter: How can you get grants for college? Here’s a quick rundown:
1. Know what an educational grant is.
As mentioned earlier, educational grant is the money used for your college expenses. Since the giving depends on the college course, you should apply for various programs and many funders. This way, you can increase your chances of getting into college. In addition to private sources, the US ED gives free education. You may choose the FSEOG or the Pell Grant.
2. Understand how you can get funding.
The number of applicants is greater than the amount of money allotted for a given program. As such, funders carefully choose their targets. They screen them based on income. So, you must know the guidelines of granting agencies, which have unique requirements. Moreover, you should need to know the programs offered, deadlines, and required documents.
3. Check your eligibility.
To be eligible, you must have exceptional financial need. Hence, submit a FAFSA form. You need to fill out and submit it every year you are in school to ensure that you still receive federal student aid until you finish college. Then, wait for the response of your college or career school to know the amount that you may receive and when it will be given to you. Having that said; different institutions have unique requirements, so verify them with your college or granting institution first.
Find Grants: Where to Search for Lists of Funding Sources
For many students, finding and applying for grants for college can be daunting. Doing so is rigorous, time consuming, and is also highly competitive. As such, you should know where you can find funding sources.
Fortunately, many tools are now available for searching and applying for grants. For instance, you can look for the right funding source in online databases. You can also take advantage of several services to ensure you have a strong application. Thus, you may increase your chance of getting the grant.
As mentioned earlier, you can get grants from various agencies like the federal government, the state, or your college.
How to Find a Federal Grant
You can choose among the federal grants we described earlier: Pell grant, FSEOG, TEACH grant, and Iraq and Afghanistan Service grant.
How to Find a State Grant
State residents can get funding from many states that offer college grant programs. For instance, if you reside in California, you can find the grant that suits your needs.
Grant Writing Process and How to Get the Funds: Steps to apply for college grants
Follow these steps to apply for college grants:
1. Know your needs.
Make a list of your needs and prioritize them so you’ll know how much to ask.
2. Search for matching prospects.
Various funding sources have different guidelines. As you write your proposal, consider the specific requirements of your target institution if you want good results.
3. Fill out the FAFSA form.
Accomplish the FAFSA form to apply for federal grants and other aids. You should do this as soon as possible because some schools give aid on a first-come, first-served basis.
4. Review the award letter.
Go through the financial aid award letter you received from each school. In each letter, you will find a list of grants, scholarships, work-study programs, and loans where you are eligible. Accept the offered grants and scholarships before you take out any student loans.
Flaws that Ruin Winning Grant Proposals
When writing your proposal, you should avoid any of the following to ensure that you get the grant:
- Not following instructions: Various agencies have unique requirements. As such, follow the guidelines provided by each funding agency.
- Making computational errors: Budget allocation is a vital part of the grant proposal. As you write your proposal, ensure that your computation is error-free. If not, your application may be rejected.
- Writing a generic grant application: If you want to submit your proposal to many prospective funders, avoid sending out the same grant proposal. With tight deadlines and limited time to write proposals for each funder, it is best to choose the one who is most likely to give the fund. Select the funder who could offer what you exactly need, and customize your proposal to align with your other options.
- Providing unclear contact details: Your contact details are also a key part of your proposal. So, ensure that they are clearly indicated in your application.
Write a Winning Grant with Allied Grant Writers
Some students may feel uneasy when they ask for money or promote themselves. As such, they experience difficulty writing their proposal to get grants for college. If this is the case, you can ask for help from experts to guide you. Or better, hire our grant writers to prepare your grant application—we’ll surely help you get that grant.