College Grants

If you or someone you know is getting ready to attend college, it’s getting more and more costly.  Consequently, for the college-bound student, grants to attend institutions of higher learning are increasingly important.  It is, therefore, imperative that a student and his or her family understand how to access these grants, and comply with all rules and regulations for proper submission and acceptance.    

There are, of course, federal college grant opportunities.  Federal Student Aid, an office of the Department of Education, ensures that eligible applicants benefit from
federally funded educational aid after high school.  All federal student aid programs are
authorized by Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, and encompass not only grants, but student loans and work-study programs.  Federal Student Aid grants include:  Federal Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, Academic Competiveness Grants, and Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grants.  Criteria exist for each program, and adherence to the stipulations of the grants is required.

Students seeking federally-funded college grants must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).  Several filing options are available, and students interested in such aid should go the Federal Student Aid website,  Federal college grants do, however, require detailed financial information so be prepared to provide it.  Once the student receives the Student Aid
Report (SAR), the individual should review for any errors, and correct them promptly.  Errors can include incorrect Social Security Numbers, tax returns, and other pertinent information.  Once completed, the student must contact the financial aid office of the institution to determine if other information is required for the application process.
Just remember:  each school‘s requirements are different, so be prepared!  And once the student receives the award letter:  it should be read carefully to understand all terms and conditions.

Many states offer college grants, too!  As with the federal grant process, the student needs to complete the FAFSA.  Some programs, though, do require additional
supporting documents.  Important to understanding the function of states grants is to know that they apply a formula to determine eligibility.  Primary consideration is financial need.  In Minnesota, e.g., state college grants are distributed accordingly:  31% goes to students with family incomes below $20,000; 43% goes to students where family incomes range from $ 20,000 to $ 50,000; and, 26% goes to those with family incomes higher than $ 50,000.

In California, college grants are administered through the CA Student Aid Commission, and its website provides detailed information on the application process, eligible applicants, and descriptions of different grants.

Other grants for colleges exist for students whose parent or guardian served in the United States Armed Forces as well as for women, minorities, the disabled, and Native Americans.

Essential to obtaining a college grant is doing one’s homework.  Do the research.  Visit the Financial Aid Office of the college, university, community college or technical college, one wants to attend.  Does all this take time?  Yes, but it is well-worth it once the award letter is received!

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