Grants and Opportunties

School Grants:

Grants can be a vital component of every parent and student’s strategy to help defray the ever increasing costs of a college education.  We hope that the following information will be useful in your planning process:

So who’s eligible to receive government funded education grants?

The basic principle here is that anyone who can demonstrate “financial need” is eligible for a grant. However, what financial need means differs somewhat from grant to grant. Basically, it is based on the yearly income either of the individual seeking to enroll in the school program, or the individual’s family income (i.e. parents). As we go over the various grant programs currently available, we’ll also take a look at what some of their eligibility requirements are. Chances are that unless you or your family are really doing quite well financially (which is less and less common in these troubled economic times), you are eligible for some sort of grant. Which ones will depend on the specifics of your financial situation as well as the school(s) to which you are applying.

Pell grants are one of the most common and widely accessed type of federal school grant, and are funded by the U.S. department of education. This type of grant was originally called the Basic Education Opportunity Grant program and was named after Claiborne Pell, a US senator from Rhode Island. While the amount of Pell grant money issued has been steadily rising (in 2010-11 the maximum grant will be $5,550, up from $4,050 in 2006-7), the fact that tuition are also steadily rising means that it now covers less of the tuition than it used to. It currently covers about 30% of tuition on average while in 1990 it was around 60%.

The eligibility for Pell grant is based on what is called Expected Family Contribution, which is an assessment of how much either the student or more commonly the student’s family can contribute to education costs for the school year being applied for. Again, this information is accessed from the FAFSA – simply filling out the form and stating that you want to be considered for a Pell grant is all that is required to apply for one.

Some of the nice things about Pell grants is that the amount of grant money never runs out – the more students apply the more money is allocated, you can be reimbursed for tuition money you’ve already paid, and you can adjust the amount you are applying for in response to changes in financial status.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity (FSEOG) Grants –

FSEOG grants are similar to Pell grants in that they are federal and are based on financial need. These grants are done in tandem with the school a student is applying for. The government puts up 75% of the grant amount awarded and the school provides the remaining 25%. The eligibility is also arrived at from information on the FAFSA form and again, this is the main way to apply for them. A few other stipulations are that you must be a U.S. citizen, you must not already have a Bachelor’s degree, you can’t have had an overpayment of a federal Pell grant, and you can’t be in default on any educational loan.

State Grants –

Virtually all states have their own school grant programs. It is very easy to find out about them by consulting your state education department, or just doing an online search for school grants in your state. Often these grants are applied for by filling out separate forms that are particular to the grants, rather than the FAFSA. These can either be gotten from the school in question or accessed from the grant program’s website. They are then submitted prior to the beginning of the school year.

Grants and scholarships given by private foundations or the educational institution

There are all kinds of foundations that give grants to students based on financial need, often along with good academic performance on the part of the student. These grants are known as scholarships. They may have various criteria other than simple financial need and good grades – sometimes they are for, say, underprivileged minority groups, students studying a particular field (for instance electronic technology), and so on. Again, check with your state education department and search online, and you will find many of these scholarship programs.

The final place where scholarships are secured is with the school that a student is attending itself. If you have good grades and clear financial need, you may be eligible for one. Simply check with the school’s financial aid department and they can tell you all about scholarship eligibility.

Primary and secondary school grants –

It should be noted that the above discussion has mainly been about grants for post secondary education – i.e. the college or university level. There are also grants/scholarships available for children attending private school at the secondary (high school) or even primary educational levels. These grants are a bit harder to find, but nevertheless many programs exist. Probably the best advice here is to talk to the financial aid administrator of the school to which your child is applying. They can tell you all about both the grant and scholarship opportunities of the school itself, and of various foundations and government programs that you can apply to. You can also check with your state’s department of education. In addition, a couple of good websites to check out for information along these lines is, and These sites are listed in the helpful links section at bottom.



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