A grant is a type of student aid that is essentially free money. Unlike a student loan, a grant doesn’t need to be paid back unless a student violates a condition of the grant, such as if they withdraw from school. There are numerous federal college grants available for a wide variety of students. The U.S. Department of Education (USDE) offers four types of grants: Federal Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG), and the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) grant for students who plan on becoming teachers in a high-need field in a low-income school. A grant for students whose parent or guardian died as a result of military services in Iraq or Afghanistan is available as well.

The amount of money awarded by these grants depends on your financial need, cost of attendance, if you’re attending full or part-time, and if you plan on attending a school for a full academic year. For example, the Federal Pell Grant awards a maximum of $5,500 per academic year, while the FSEOG gives students between $100 and $4,000 a year. The TEACH grant, on the other hand, provides up to $4,000 per year, but students must sign an agreement stating they will work at an elementary or secondary school that serves students from low-income families for at least four academic years within eight years after completing the degree. If you don’t complete this obligation, then the grant will be converted to a Direct Unsubsidized Loan, which you will have to pay back to the USDE with interest.

Eligibility Requirements

These grant programs have a basic set of requirements. Eligible students must be 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 that is 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. Most male applicants are required to sign up for Selective Service to receive financial aid.

The requirements for each grant program vary. Federal Pell Grant applicants must be undergraduate students who haven’t earned a bachelor’s or professional degree. The FSEOG has the same requirement as the Pell Grant, except it’s awarded to undergraduate students who have exceptional financial needs. Meanwhile, TEACH grant applicants must be enrolled in a grant-eligible program and meet certain academic requirements, such as maintaining a GPA of at least a 3.25. Finally, applicants for the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant must not be eligible for the Federal Pell Grant due to the expected family contribution, but still meets the other requirements. In this case, the student must have had a parent or guardian who was a member of the U.S. military die in Iraq or Afghanistan as a result of military service.

Types of Federal College Grants