Exhaust your options for education grants before accepting student loans; you may find you have more free money available to you than you thought.
Free financial aid sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? Today hundreds of grants and scholarships exist that help people just like you get an education without burying yourself in debt. You’ll find numerous grants at the federal and state level, but don’t forget to exhaust all options from private and local companies.
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Before you apply for a grant or scholarship, think about what makes you different. Why would a company or the government want to give you aid? Do you have a specific field in mind that has a great need? Do you live in a low-income area that needs professionals helping stimulate the economy and education of the population? Are you a minority or belong to a specific group? All of these factors may make you eligible for a grant or scholarship that will pay some or all of your post-secondary education.
Check out the most popular government and non-government grants below.
5 Popular Education Grants
Federal Pell Grant
Undergrad students with financial need may apply for the Federal Pell Grant which offers up to $6,195 for the 2019-2020 school year. Each recipient receives an amount based on his or her financial need, school cost, and whether you attend full-time or part-time. You must complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid to find out if you’re eligible. You must complete this form annually to receive the grant each year you are in school.
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)
Undergrad students with extreme financial need may also qualify for the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant. The grant provides between $100 and $4,000 to each eligible recipient. The amount depends on your financial need, the amount you receive elsewhere, and the funds your school has available as they come directly from your school’s financial aid office. You apply for the grant by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and your school will determine if you qualify based on your need.
Potential teachers attending college to teach in a high-field area that commit to working in low-income areas may receive a TEACH Grant. The Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education does require you to take certain classes and sign an agreement to serve in a low-income area with a high need for at least four of the eight years following graduation. You can apply for the program directly through your school’s financial aid office, but first, you must find out if they participate in the program. If so, you’ll complete the FAFSA application to get started.
Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant
If you are ineligible for a Federal Pell Grant because of your required family contribution (your family’s income isn’t low enough), but you lost a parent due to his or her service during the Iraq or Afghanistan War after 9/11, you may be eligible. You may receive up to $6,195 (2019-2020 school year) based on your need. You apply for the grant by completing the FAFSA. You will need to complete the application each year.
Advanced Nursing Education Workforce
If you are attending school for nursing, you may be eligible for the ANEW if you plan to work in a rural or underserved community. The program provides four years of funding, so you don’t have to reapply for the grant every year. You apply for the grant via grants.gov.
Smaller Education Grants
Jeannette Rankin Foundation Scholarship
Female students ages 35 and older that wish to go back to school may receive assistance with the Jeannette Rankin Foundation Scholarship. In order to qualify, you must be a US citizen, pursue a degree (associates through bachelor) and meet low-income guidelines for consideration. You’ll find guidelines and application requirements here.
Emerge Foundation Scholarship
Female students ages 25 and older and a resident of Georgia may qualify for the Emerge Foundation Scholarship. You must be pursuing a degree whether vocation, associate’s, or bachelor’s and have proven financial need according to the guidelines posted here.
Advancing Agricultural Science Opportunities for Native Americans (AASONA) Scholarship
Native Americans pursuing STEM degrees with an agriculture emphasis may qualify for the AASONA Scholarship. You may receive $5,000 per student as long as you pursue a degree in a science-related field. You must be a full-time student at an accredited school and keep a 3.0 GPA and a part of a recognized tribe. Application and further information is available online.
ACS-Hach Land Grant Undergraduate Scholarship
Chemistry students pursuing a degree at one of ACS’s partner institutions may receive $10,000 per year of attendance for up to six years. You must plan to teach high school level chemistry upon graduation. You must be a full-time student with at least a 3.0 GPA.
Black Community Scholarship Fund
The Black Community Scholarship Fund provides support to African American students in the Greater Kansas area. The $5,000 reward is available to high school seniors and adults planning to attend college and agree to perform 16 hours of community service with a BCF partner. Students must be full-time and have a 2.0 GPA.
Scholarships and grants help you pay for college without worry about repayment**. Exhaust all of your financial aid options before considering a loan as educational loans can rack up thousands of dollars in interest and make it hard to pay them off in full, especially with all of the deferment and payment arrangement options available today. If you aren’t eligible for a grant or scholarship, consider federal student loans rather than private loans as they do offer more payment assistance options and even options to forgive your balance if you work in certain fields.