Grants, especially government grants, are some of the best financial aid available, and typically base themselves on need. Like scholarships, grants do not usually require repayment. There are many kinds of student grants available at national, state, college, and organizational levels. Federal grants provided by the United States government make up some of the most common sources of financial aid for undergraduates.

Applying for Federal Grants

Applying for financial aid largely consists of two steps. First, make sure you meet all the basic eligibility requirements for federal student aid. Next, submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. To remain eligible for federal grants, you need to file a FAFSA every year that you are enrolled in college. Keep in mind that you need to have all your tax info available, so be sure to file your taxes before attempting to complete the paperwork.

Eligibility Requirements

These grant programs also come with basic set of requirements, but they can vary depending on which ones you apply to receive. Typically, though, eligible students must meet all of the following criteria:

  • U.S. citizens, nationals, or permanent residents;
  • have a valid Social Security number;
  • demonstrate financial need; and
  • be enrolled or accepted in a college or university accredited by a USDE-recognized institution.

Students must also complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, which states that they are not in default on a federal student loan and don’t owe money on a federal student grant. They must also state that the grant money will only be used for educational purposes.

Grants Available and Their Requirements

The U.S. Department of Education (USDE) offers four types of federal grants, each with their own nuances:

Federal Pell Grants

Amount: Up to $5,815 for the 2016-2017 school year and up to $5,920 for the 2017-2018 school year.

Deadline: For the 2016-2017 school year, apply by June 30, 2017. For the 2017-2018 school year, apply by June 30, 2018.

Notes:

  • You cannot receive Federal Pell Grants for more than 12 semesters.
  • The amount of other student aid for which you qualify does not affect your Federal Pell Grant amount.
  • Federal Pell Grants are only available for undergraduate degrees.

Website:https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/types/grants-scholarships/pell

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG)

Amount: Up to $4,000 per school year.

Deadline: Varies.

Notes:

  • FSEOG programs are administered directly by your school’s financial aid office. Please take note that not all schools participate.
  • FSEOG school grants are reserved for those with the greatest financial need.
  • It is recommended that you complete your FAFSA early, as each school has a limited amount of FSEOG funds available.

Website:https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/types/grants-scholarships/FSEOG

Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants

Amount: Up to $5,419.58 for the 2016-2017 school year. Up to $5,511.52 for the 2017-2018 school year (amounts adjusted for sequestration).

Deadline: For the 2016-2017 school year, apply by June 30, 2017. For the 2017-2018 school year, apply by June 30, 2018.

Notes:

  • Cannot be eligible for a Federal Pell Grant due to the expected family contribution, but you must meet all other requirements.
  • Must have been under 24 years of age or enrolled in college at the time of your parent or guardian’s death in Iraq or Afghanistan after the events of 9/11.

Website:https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/types/grants-scholarships/iraq-afghanistan-service

Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH)

Amount: Up to $3,728 per school year for the 2016-2017 school year. Up to $3,724 for the 2017-2018 school year (amounts adjusted for sequestration).

Deadline: For the 2016-2017 school year, apply by June 30, 2017. For the 2017-2018 school year, apply by June 30, 2018.

Notes:

  • Grant recipients must teach in a high-need field for four years at an elementary school, secondary school, or educational service agency that serves low-income students.
  • If service obligations are not completed, the grant becomes a direct unsubsidized loan.

Website:https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/types/grants-scholarships/teach

Other Forms of Financial Aid

In addition to federal grants for college, other forms of financial aid are available to help you fund your higher education:
Scholarships are usually merit-based and are available through a variety of organizations. You can find many scholarship opportunities via sites like Fastweb.com or by visiting your college’s financial aid office.

Loans are available both from the USDE and from private banks. Federal student loans include The William D. Ford Direct Loan Program, which features low interest rates and has four types of direct loan and the Federal Perkins Loan Program, a school-based program based on financial need.

Private student loans vary in features and are offered by financial institutions.