Although many first-time college students automatically seek out a four-year program, there are a variety of benefits of attending a community college. In fact, depending on the type of program and the student’s career goals, community college can offer a convenient and more affordable education that meets entry-level workforce requirements. Licensed Practical Nurses, or LPNs, for example, can complete an accelerated state-approved training program through an accredited community college or vocational school. For undecided majors and working adults, community colleges offer breathing room, and allow students the opportunity to transfer credits efficiently for prior experience.

Among the broad range of benefits they provide, community colleges can help students save money on tuition costs and reduce their debt post-graduation through grant programs. Two-year school students are qualified for grants for community college based on financial need, which can have a bigger impact at community colleges where tuition rates tend to be lower than those at four-year colleges and universities. Community college grants are typically funded by federal and state organizations aimed at increasing attendance and improving completion rates at two-year and vocational schools. Other privately-funded grants are sponsored by companies hoping to increase the number of qualified professionals in their industry.

While amounts vary from school to school, community college students can expect to save big on tuition costs and other fees; the cost of attending a community college in-state can be as low as $1,000 per year, compared to tens of thousands of dollars at a four-year university. Additional savings through grants will vary, as grant amounts depend upon the student’s demonstrated financial need, the student’s contribution, the cost of tuition, the source of the grant, and other factors. Community college scholarships and grants award amounts may range from $100 to thousands of dollars per academic year. Most federal college grants require students to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine eligibility.

Eligibility Requirements

Community college grants may be exclusive to students pursuing community or vocational college, or available for any type of first-time undergraduate program. Most grant programs require that students demonstrate financial need to be eligible for community college grants, while others have their own individual eligibility requirements. The California Student Aid Commission, for example, offers the Chafee Grant for Foster Youth only to students who are or were in foster care in the state. Community colleges should be able to assist students in providing detailed information about grants through their respective financial aid offices.

Community College Grants Available Now

Alabama Student Assistance Program

  • Amount: $300-$5,000
  • Deadline: Varies

The Alabama Student Assistance Program (ASAP) supports Alabama state residents who are enrolled in an undergraduate program at one of 80 participating higher learning institutions in the state.

Cal Grants A, B, & C

  • Amount: Varies
  • Deadline: September 2, 2017

California students can receive an award to help cover tuition, room and board, school supplies, books, and other expenses at California community colleges through the California Cash for College initiative.

Chafee Grant

  • Amount: Up to $5,000
  • Deadline: Varies

The Chafee Grant is one of few California grants that offers financial support to students pursuing community or technical college programs who were or are also in foster care.

College Access Program

  • Amount: Up to $1,900
  • Deadline: Varies

The College Access Program (CAP) offers assistance to Kentucky residents who are enrolled in a participating community college or vocational training program at least part-time.

Colorado Student Grants

  • Amount: $500-$1,500
  • Deadline: Varies

CSGs are grants for community college given to Colorado residents based on their individual financial need; students are required to complete the FAFSA to determine eligibility for all awards through the Colorado Department of Higher Education (CDHE.)

Florida Student Assistance Grants

  • Amount: $200+
  • Deadline: Varies

This need-based grant program encompasses four college-based awards, including one specifically for public community college students, supporting both public and private colleges and universities in the state of Florida.

Frank O’Bannon Grant

  • Amount: $600-$7,400
  • Deadline: March 10, 2017

Formerly known as the Indiana Higher Education Grant, the newly named Frank O’Bannon Grant now also includes a second award: Freedom of Choice. The grant is gifted to Indiana students enrolled in public and private postsecondary programs and is based on financial need.

Illinois Monetary Award Program

  • Amount: Varies
  • Deadline: ASAP after October 1, 2017

The Illinois Monetary Award Program (MAP) provides grants to Illinois students at approved community colleges with demonstrated financial need; eligibility is determined by the FAFSA, which must be filed before the candidate can apply for the grant.

Louisiana Go Grant

  • Amount: $300-$3,000
  • Deadline: Varies

The Go Grant Program is a supplement to the state’s financial aid program for nontraditional and low-income students; applicants who are Louisiana residents need only submit the FAFSA to determine eligibility. Those who still have financial need after receiving a Pell Grant may receive this award.

NC Community College Grant Program

  • Amount: $100-$1,500
  • Deadline: Varies

The College Foundation of North Carolina offers numerous need-based grants to North Carolina residents who are enrolled in participating community colleges in the state.