Federal grants can help you cover some or all of the costs of your college education and unlike student loans, grants do not need to be paid back.
Grants are often called a “gift aid” and are based on need. If you apply for a federal grant, you will need to submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
The U.S. Department of Education will then work with your college or career school to determine whether you are eligible for a grant, how much you can get, and when you would start receiving it.
The U.S. Department of Education offers a few different types of grants to eligible students.
One of the basic requirements for getting these grants is that you need to be attending a four-year college or university, community college, or career school. Here’s a closer look at each grant:
Federal Pell Grants
These grants are usually only rewarded to undergraduate students who have not already earned a bachelor’s or a professional degree.
However, this grant can be awarded to students enrolled in a post-baccalaureate teacher certification program.
For the 2012-13 school year, the maximum Federal Pell Grant you can receive is $5,550 and the minimum Pell Grant award is $577.
The amount received depends on financial need, cost of attendance, part-time or full-time status, and your plans to attend school for the full academic year or less.
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG)
This grant is designed for undergraduate students that can demonstrate exceptional financial need.
Your college will need to determine what your financial need is based on your FAFSA application.
A school’s financial aid office is responsible for administering this program but not all schools participate. The award amount is between $100 to $4,000 a year, depending on need.
Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grants
If you plan to become a teacher in a high-need field and in a low-income area, you may be eligible for this grant.
This is different from federal student grants because you do need to take certain types of classes to qualify for the grant, and then choose a specific career path.
You also need to teach for at least four complete academic years within eight years after completing your educational program.
Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants
If your parent or guardian was a member of the U.S. armed forces and died as a result of military service performed in Iraq or Afghanistan after the 9/11 events, and you were under 24 years of age or enrolled in college at least part-time when your parent or guardian died, you may be eligible for this grant.
The grant is equal to the amount of the maximum Federal Pell Grant for that award year.