The government doesn't just take your money through tax collection – they also offer financial assistance in the form of grants. While most grants are designed for large organizations, many are made available to individuals directly. Getting help with utility bills, going back to school, starting a business, or making energy-efficient changes are just a few of the reasons you may be eligible for a government grant.
The very idea of applying for government funding can seem overwhelming. It can be challenging to know where to start because there are so many types of funding and programs. With the right help, though, you can find a grant to go to school, fund your next best idea, or help you get back on your feet.
What Exactly Is A Grant?
Fundamentally, a government grant is a specific amount of money that the government awards to people or individuals meeting certain qualifications or needs. Grants must be applied for, and the appropriate agency will determine if you qualify based on your application. Each funding opportunity has a different purpose, and are meant to help improve your quality of life, whether in helping you pay off debt, pay for your education, start a business, or make improvements to your home.
These programs are legitimate sources of funding that the government uses to help certain people on an as-needed basis.
What's the Difference Between a Grant and a Loan?
Unlike a loan, you generally don't have to repay a grant – provided the funds are used as intended. Remember, the government funds these programs in order to stimulate the economy and help individuals meet their goals, so they aren't the same as a loan.
If you don't use the funds as intended, you may be liable to repay the grant. For example, if you are awarded money for college, you may have to repay the loan if you do not graduate within a reasonable amount of time.
How Do You Find and Apply For A Grant?
The easiest way to search for a government grant these days is online through Grants.gov. You'll find information for thousands of grants on this website, as well as helpful information regarding qualifications and how to apply. Applications are usually accepted online, but you may have to visit a local office to complete the application process.
Types of Government Grants
There are many types available, but these are some of the most commonly sought-after:
Educational Grants – The Federal Pell Grant is the most common educational grant, which provides additional funds after you exhaust your other federal assistance options. The Federal Pell Grant provides up to $6,495* per year for eligible applicants. There are also many other grants for students based on location, need, potential careers, and special talents.
Remote Worker Grant Program - Vermont will pay you $10,000 to move to Vermont and work remotely for your company out of state. The program will reward up to 100 applicants during its first three years and 20 more workers in the following years. Recipients receive $5,000 a year for two years with this grant.
Solar Panel Grant - The government encourages the use of solar panels and renewable energy by providing grants to low-income individuals, rural households, tribal families and communities, schools, and non-profit corporations. The Office of Efficiency and Renewable Energy offers an exhaustive list of all solar panel grants.
Housing Grant for Disabled Veterans – Veterans with disabilities resulting from their time in the can receive money to buy or renovate an adaptive home. The Specially Adapted Housing Grant and the Special Housing Adaption Grant both provide funds for this purpose.
FHA Down Payment Grants – Each state offers down payment assistance programs in the form of a grant. If you don't have cash available for a down payment on a home, it's worth checking with your state's HUD department to see if you qualify for down payment assistance. For example, the City of Pine Bluff Down Payment Grant helps low-income families in Arizona buy an owner-occupied home by helping with down payments and closing costs.
Childcare and Development Fund – The US Department of Health and Human Services helps low-income families cover childcare costs so they can work. The amount awarded is need-based and helps cover childcare for children under the age of 13. The Child Care and Development Block Grant helps subsidize the cost of childcare, assisting low-income families in getting quality child care assistance
Low Income Energy Assistance Program – If you struggle to pay your utilities, check out the Low Income Energy Assistance Program – it offers money through the state to help low-income families cover these bills.
Rural Housing Repair Loans and Grants Program – This program offers both loans and grants. You don't have to repay the grant, but loans must be repaid. This grant helps low-income families repair or renovate a rural home that is otherwise unsafe or outdated.
Government grants provide assistance to those who are in need. Whether you need to fix up your house, pay for necessary living expenses, pay for childcare, or pursue an education, there are funded programs available today. Check with your local, state, and the federal government to exhaust all options when looking for ways to help you supplement your ideas and needs. The chances are that there's a grant for that.