For financially needy students, grants can be an essential component of paying for college. Federal, state and private grants are free money gifts, with no obligation to repay them. Unlike scholarships, grants are awarded primarily based on financial need. FinancialAidFinder provides a detailed overview of each of the major federally funded college grant programs, as well as private grants for minority and female students. Read our Guide to Major Aid Programs to learn more about:
Established in 1972, the Pell Grant is America’s largest federal college grant program, awarding over 5 million grants to low-income students each year. The 2009 Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act is set to further expand the number of students eligible for Pell Grants and to increase the maximum award from $5,500 in 2010 to $6,900 by 2019.
The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, or FSEOG, promotes access to post-secondary education among extremely low-income undergraduate students. To be eligible, students must be enrolled in one of approximately 4,000 participating postsecondary institutions. Each school’s financial aid administrators have significant flexibility in determining the amount of FSEOG to be awarded. Priority is given to those students already receiving the Pell Grant who have “exceptional need”.
The Academic Competitiveness Grant was authorized in 2006 to provide additional assistance to freshmen and sophomore Pell Grant recipients with outstanding academic and leadership potential. The grant provides students up to $750 for their first year of undergraduate study and as much as $1,300 for the second year.
The National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent, or SMART Grant, provides additional assistance to junior and senior Pell Grant recipients with exceptional promise in math, science, computer science or engineering. Recipients receive $4000 per year for each of their last two years of college.
Grants for Minority Students
In addition to federal college grants, a number of private companies and not-for-profit organizations offer grants to low-income students, particularly those from minority backgrounds.
Review our comprehensive lists of College Grants for Hispanic Students, College Grants for African American Students and College Grants for Students with Disabilities. We also have a special section with an A-to-Z list of College Grants for Women.
Rejoice if you receive all of your financial aid from federal grants. Grants constitute “free money” for students. These dollars are free because they accrue no interest and do not need to be repaid. There are several major government grant programs: Pell Grants, FSEOGs, and Academic Competitiveness Grants. On the next few pages you’ll learn about each of these great programs.