All About College Grants – the Complete Guide


Federal government college grants are provided to students who demonstrate financial need, displaced workers who need to get retrained in order to compete and re-join the workforce, and students enrolled in a post baccalaureate teaching certificate program. Government grants for college do not need to be repaid. Applicants do not need good credit to be eligible for these grants, and there are no application fees. Applying for scholarships is also an important aspect of your application process.

States also offer grants. Many states have minority funded grants, low income and disadvantage student grants and grants for students pursuing a high demand field such as medical or education. There may be special requirements that the student agree to work for the state for a certain number of years in a medical or educational underserved area. Students should check with their school’s financial aid office to find out what college grant opportunities are available.

Primary college grants categories:

Pell Grants

Pell grants were named after a U.S. Senator Claiborne Pell who introduced the grants to Congress in 1965. Pell Grants are free and do not have to be repaid like student loans. They are offered to students on a needs basis based upon a formula. Students are encouraged to apply early for Pell grants by checking with their college to determine the submission date for completion of an online Free Application for Federal Student Aid (“FASA”), which can be done online by visiting the government’s website at: students/english/grants.jsp.

Pell grants are mainly for undergraduate students who currently do not have a bachelor degree or who are enrolled in a post baccalaureate teaching certificate program. To qualify, students must:

  • Demonstrate financial need.
  • Be a U.S. citizen or an eligible noncitizen.
  • Have a valid social security number.
  • Have a high school diploma or a GED certificate.
  • Be enrolled or accepted as a degree seeking undergraduate student in an eligible program.
  • Be registered with the Selective Service, if required.
  • Keep a satisfactory academic standing while attending school
  • Certify they are not in default on a student loan or student grant.
  • Certify that they will use the grant aid for educational purposes only.

Students may only receive one Pell Grant award at a time, which is paid directly to their college for full-time, three quarter-time or half-time. Grants are paid either on a semester, trimester or quarterly basis depending on the school’s academic year. Students should check with their college to find out when funds are disbursed. It is common for schools to disburse funds after the add/drop periods. The maximum award amount for the 2011-2012 award year is $5,550.

Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants

Students whose parent or guardian died while serving as a member of the U.S. armed forces in Iraq or Afghanistan after September 11, 2001, may also be eligible automatically to receive the maximum Pell Grant award if they were under 24 years of age and enrolled at least part-time in college at the time of their parent’s or guardian’s death.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)

To be eligible for the FSEIG, a student must receive a Pell Grant and be an undergraduate student who demonstrates exceptional financial need. Pell Grant recipients are given a rating called a lowest expected family contribution (“EFC”) in determining how much grant aid they will receive. The students with the lowest EFC are considered for the FSEOG first. The FSEOG grant does not have to be paid either. The FSEIG award ranges from $100 to $4,000 per year depending on the student’s financial need, the college they are attending and other school financial aid policies. The money is paid to directly to the college just like the Pell Grant and excess funds are distributed to the student. To find out more about the FSEOG, please visit the government website at students/english/FSEOG.jsp.

Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant (TEACH Grant)

The TEACH grant is available to undergraduate, post baccalaureate, or graduate students who are or who will become elementary or secondary teachers. The student’s college must participates in the TEACH Grant Program, and the student must agree to meet the specific requirements of the grant as well as sign a Teach Grant Agreement to Serve. To find out more about the TEACH Grant, you can visit the government website at attachments/siteresources/TEACHGrant.pdf.

Institutional Grants

Some colleges provide their own institutional grants to help students meet expenses. These grants may have other special requirements or obligations that students must met in order to qualify. For instance, a school may offer a summer school grant to a limited amount of students who apply early for the funds. Students should check with their school’s financial aid office to find out the eligibility requirements and what grants are offered by the school.

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