While the average annual cost of a public education in 1980 was only $3,101, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, the price of a public four-year college in 2009 rose to more than five times that amount, averaging about $17,633 a year.
For the everyday student, that’s a big chunk of change. While some students commit to years of educational debt in order to go to college, others look for help from grants in order to afford their tuition. This isn’t surprising.
After all, the purpose of grants is to provide educational funding, no matter how small, to students who truly need them to off-set the rising cost of college education.
If you are looking for assistance in affording your college degree, learning what grants are available to you and how to apply is essential. Continue reading for some valuable and helpful advice.
Types of Student Grants
Unlike many scholarships, most grants are based on need instead of merit, and, unlike student loans, grants never have to be repaid.
There are four main types of student grants:
- Student-specific – This type of grant is usually solely based on the need of the student, although some may be based on merit as well.
- Subject-specific – This type of grant will only be available to students seeking a degree under a specific subject.
- Degree level – Many grants are made available specifically for undergraduate students, while others cater to graduate students.
- Minority – Minority individuals, or those who are Native American, African-American, or Hispanic can find grants created to specifically assist them.
Grants can be obtained from the federal government, the student’s state, through various colleges, and even through private businesses and corporations.
Eligibility Requirements for School Grants
The majority of school grants are based on financial need, however, the amount of financial need each student needs to demonstrate will vary from grant to grant.
Basically, your yearly income, or your parent’s yearly income if you are still a dependent, will determine whether you are eligible for the majority of grants.
Unless you or your parents are doing well financially, which is a difficult prospect in these tough economic times, you will most likely be eligible for grants.
Eligibility can also be determined by the specific type of grant you are applying for. For instance, in order to receive money for school through a grant intended for future teachers, you must actively be working toward a teaching degree.
Many grants also list other eligibility requirements, like the following:
- You may need to be a U.S. resident.
- If the grant is available to students in a specific state, you may need to prove you are a resident of that state.
- You may need to have a valid Social Security Number.
- You may need to maintain a certain GPA in order to qualify for the grant each year.
- You may need to be attending a particular school in order to receive a grant.
Applying for School Grants
There are many ways to apply for grants; the actual application process will most likely be determined by the grant you are trying to obtain. The most common way to apply for a grant is by filling out the Federal Application for Student Aid, or FAFSA, at www.fafsa.ed.gov.
Paper forms of this application can also be obtained through your college, at legal offices, and at most public libraries. The majority of grants available through the federal and state government will be obtained by filling out a FAFSA application.
Grants from private foundations, companies, and corporations may be more difficult to apply for, as they don’t often use the FAFSA for application purposes.
The best way to located these grants and apply for them is to visit a website like scholarship.com, which not only provides you with information on grants available to you, but also scholarships you can take advantage of.
You should also visit your college’s financial aid office for information; many times, they have lists of companies and foundations that offer grants you will qualify for. Once you locate a foundation or business that offers school grants, visit their website and learn as much as you can about the eligibility requirements for the grant and how to apply.
Although the cost of a solid college education will no doubt continue to rise, you don’t have to give up your dreams of earning a degree because of a lack of funds.
Begin applying for school grants today so you can pay for college.