What is a Grant?
A grant is financial aid you don’t have to repay. Generally, you must be an undergraduate student, and the amount you receive depends on your need, cost of attendance, and enrollment status (full time or part time). Grants are awarded by the government and/or institution on the basis of financial need.
Types of Grants
There are essentially three sources of grants – the federal government, state governments, and sometimes the college itself. Regardless of the source, however, all grants are awarded through the same application process and are based on demonstrated financial need. For more information on applying for grants, see the article entitled Applying for Financial Aid.
- Federal Grants: There are two types of federal grants: The Federal Pell Grant and the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG).
Federal Pell Grants are available almost exclusively to undergraduates pursuing their first bachelor's or vocational degree. The actual award amount is based on Cost of Attendance (COA), Expected Family Contribution (EFC), and enrollment status. In the 2004-2005 award year, grants ranged from $400 to $4,050.
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG) are available to undergraduates with exceptional financial need, with priority given to Federal Pell Grant recipients. In the 2004-2005 award year, grants ranged from $100 to $4,000, but funds depend on availability at the school. Late applicants may miss out on this grant if their school has depleted their allocated funds. Also note that unlike the Pell Grant, this grant cannot be transferred to another college.
- State Grants: Some states also have their own grant programs. California, for example, offers Cal Grants for California residents attending a California college or university.
- Institutional Grants: Grants may also be awarded from the college itself or related organizations such as alumni associations. The difference between institutional grants and institutional scholarships is pretty gray, but the later is usually based on academic excellence, field of study, or other factors, where the former is based more on financial need.
How Do I Get a Grant?
Grants are based on financial need, or the Cost of Attendance (COA) minus Expected Family Contribution (EFC). There are dozens of online calculators that can help you determine whether you’ll be eligible for a grant (or other types of financial aid), but regardless, you should apply anyway. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) will make you eligible for all relevant grant programs, provided you submit it within the school’s deadline. Some schools, especially private schools, often require supplemental forms. For more information on applying for grants, please refer to the article entitled, Applying for Financial Aid.