Education Grants: The Benefits and Opportunities
May 06, 2015 governmentgrantresources.net Staff
Finding the Right Sources
Only a very limited number of students who are bound for college have the financial wherewithal to pay for their tertiary education in its entirety. That is hardly surprising: Enrollment at a public four-year college now costs an average of $20,000 for each academic year.
Even students in possession of generous college tuition savings plans usually have to augment such plans because their savings fall short of meeting their full tuition needs. The cost is even higher for those students who wish to attend private colleges or universities. Those hallowed halls of learning cost more than $30,000 for each academic year.
Yes! College education is prohibitively expensive, and all indications point to further cost increases.
Given the ever-increasing costs of college tuition, the majority of students will have to seek out different forms of financial assistance to fund their higher education. Typically, students’ college funds are comprised in one way or another of scholarships, student loans, grants, family contributions and personal savings.
As students prepare to put together their college funds, they should explore all financial resources. Education grants are among the most valuable and most popular forms of financial aid available to college students. The right grant can make any student’s dream of a college education become a reality.
Grants: Not the Same as Student Loans and Scholarships
Essentially free money, college grants do not have to be repaid by students. Each grant is awarded in accordance with each student’s financial need, with consideration also given to academic merit. This is in contrast to scholarships. Scholarships are generally awarded on a specific basis, which could be athletic or artistic in nature.
Students who are investigating potential college grants will more than likely encounter different types of award-for-service grants. Such grants are generally tied to a particular course of study, and they are awarded to students with defined career objectives. They typically address severe shortages in professions that include healthcare, social work, teaching and legal aid. Recipients of grant-for-service awards must agree to work within a particular field or at a specified location. Failure to meet the terms of the agreement will cause the grant to be reverted to a regular student loan, and the recipient will have to repay all funds received. Interest on the funds will also be incurred.
College-bound students can pursue grants via a number of sources. The sources include:
- Universities and Colleges
- State and Federal Governments
- Professional and other Associations
- Private and Public Organizations
The source for grants may differ, but they share a common purpose: That is, they increase students’ accessibility to higher education via financial aid toward their tuition costs.
• Federal Grants
Within the United States, federal grant programs are the foundation upon which college-bound students build their application for tuition assistance -- and rightly so.
Funded by the government, federal education grants are administered via the U. S. Department of Education. These grants help countless students pay their college fees each year.
Currently, the Federal grant programs listed below are available to U. S. students:
o Federal Pell Grant
This is the most popular form of education grant.
o Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant/FSEOG
This grant is administered via financial aid offices of each participating university and college. It provides financial assistance to undergraduates experiencing dire financial needs. Students should apply as soon as the need emerges, because the grants are given on a first-come, first-served basis.
o Federal TEACH Grant
This award-for-service grant gives funding to students who commit to teach in specific areas following graduation.
• State Grants
Low-income, female and ethnic minority students can usually receive assistance via state grants. Students undertaking careers and degrees in fields such as nursing and teaching are also well-served. Students should seek information on the grant programs that pertain to their particular state.
• Private Sector Grants
Many professional associations and corporations offer grants to students who meet certain criteria and who intend to pursue degrees programs that closely align with their organization or business. With each private sector grant, certain eligibility requirements usually apply.
Universities and colleges, too, are usually rich sources for grants, but students must typically meet specific requirements. Students should look for private grants based on their particular status: Graduate level, ethnicity, gender and field of study. The search could be time-consuming, but the reward could be significant.
• Grants by Categories
General Grants are open to all students who exhibit a financial need, but some college grants are highly specific regarding the students, the subject studied, ethnicity and the degree level.
o Student-Specific Grants: These grants are available to non-traditional/mature students, low-income, physically/mentally disadvantaged and military affiliated students.
o Subject-Specific Grants: These grants support and encourage students undertaking studies in high-need fields such as education, healthcare, science and mathematics. Currently, the United States is trying to encourage studies in the STEM subjects: science, technology, engineering and mathematics. As such, a rich source of grants is available for these subjects.
o Specific Degree Level Grants: Some grants pertain to undergraduates, and other grants target graduate and doctoral students only. Competition is keen for the post-graduate grants and the awards are usually based on academic achievements. They are aligned to research topics and include stipends for living, traveling and research expenses.
o Minority Specific Grants: Historically, many ethnic minority groups have been under-represented in higher education in the U.S.A. As such, many grants now help ethnic minorities and women to enter higher education.
- Grants for African-American Students
Thanks for help from grants, the last decade has seen a rising number of African-American students completing four-year college degrees.
- Grants for Hispanic Students
The fastest-growing ethnic minority group in the country now has a dedicated college grants program to increase their numbers in the college student population. Typically funded by advocacy groups, charitable foundations, professional associations and corporations, the grants will encourage Hispanic students to pursue higher education.
- Grants for Native American Students
These grants are increasing in availability, and students will need to produce documents in support of their Native American heritage.
- Grants for Asian-American Students
Asian-Americans now have an ever-increasing cohort of students pursuing higher education. Grants for Asian-American students emphasize particular career paths that include technology, science, journalism and education.
- Grants for Women
Women are deemed a minority, even though they constitute 51 percent of the population within the United States. Their numbers in higher education have continued to grow, but they are still under-represented on the majority of college campuses. While private women’s colleges have historically provided well-rounded educations to women, educational grants that target women will serve to increase diversity in mainstream universities and colleges as well as the workforce. Under the auspices of the grant programs for women, female students are encouraged to pursue a wide field of study, especially in subjects such as technology, science, business and mathematics.
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