Every year, educational grants help ease financial burdens for millions of college and college-bound students. Indeed, undergrads seeking aid may apply for either merit-based grants that consider GPA and other academic criteria (with only some attention paid to family income level) or need-based grants, which only take a family’s income into account.
When you submit your FAFSA application (which we urge you to do whether or not you think your family will qualify), you are automatically considered for the Federal Pell Grant and the Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant Program. These grants are both based upon your family’s ability to pay for college though each has different income “ceiling” restrictions. Additionally, many grants are available at the state level. Those typically take academic criteria and area of study into consideration.
Beyond the FAFSA application, state financial aid grants may require additional information (ex. your official high school transcript) for evidence of academic prowess and promise. Go to your state’s official government website, find the grant application guidelines and submit your application to the state grant commission. While these extra steps may seem time-consuming, it could mean that fewer people are applying for them, ultimately giving you a better shot at receiving money.
Outside of the federal (need-based) and state (need- and merit-based) grants mentioned above, there are also special grants earmarked for minorities, women and specific undergraduate and graduate disciplines (among many others categories). Private organizations, such as foundations, are a huge source of such grants, and they set their own merit and need criteria.
To kick-start your grant search, consider how a company might benefit from investing in your education. For example, if an organization’s mission is to help people suffering from hearing loss and you have a keen interest in becoming an audiologist, you may be a great match. Think about organizations that appeal to and are aligned with your passions and your strengths (both intellectual and extracurricular). Once you’ve come up with a list, begin reaching out and inquiring about their scholarship and/or grant programs. And, of course, don’t forget to ask about application deadlines!
Remember, it can never hurt to apply for college grants. If you’re successful in your quest, you’ll be reducing your own out-of-pocket expenses. And, perhaps more importantly, you’ll be receiving aid money that you’ll never have to worry about repaying!