Most college students have heard of the Pell Grant — it’s the need-based federal government grant to low-income students. But what happens when the Pell Grant does not even come close to covering a student’s total educational expenses?
In December 2005, Congress approved funding for a second, need-based grant, which, while less well known that the Pell Grant, can double a student’s federal grant award.
The National Science & Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant (AKA the SMART Grant) is available to third and forth year students with demonstrated financial need above and beyond the Pell Grant who are studying math, science or a critical need foreign language.
How do I know if I am eligible?
To be eligible for a National SMART Grant, you must meet each of the following qualifications:
- Be a rising junior or senior in college
- Be majoring in physical, life, or computer sciences, mathematics, technology, or engineering, or a foreign language determined critical to national security
- Be enrolled in school full-time
- Take at least one course required for your major during the semester in which the SMART Grant is awarded
- Have and maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0 during the period in which the SMART Grant is awarded
How much is the SMART Grant worth?
The SMART Grant is worth up to $4,000 for each of the last two years of undergraduate study.
The amount of the Pell Grant combined with the SMART Grant may not exceed your total cost of you attendance, which includes tuition, fees, room and board.
Congress has appropriated a fixed amount for the SMART Grant program, so if the number of qualified applicants exceeds expectations, each individual award may be reduced in order to accommodate the greater demand. In other words, you are not guaranteed the full $4,000, even if you qualify for it.
How do I apply for a National SMART Grant?
Simply complete and submit your FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) by your school’s financial aid deadline. You will automatically be considered for all federal grants and, if you qualify, your SMART Grant will be included in your financial aid award letter.