What is a grant?

A grant is a type of financial aid to students that they don’t have to repay. Some of the most common grants include Pell Grants, Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG) and merit-based grants. Students can apply to the federal government, state government, schools and private organizations for this type of financial aid.

Deeper definition

The U.S. Department of Education offers four grants to students at two-year and four-year colleges, universities and career education schools. Undergraduate students who have not already earned a bachelor’s degree and demonstrate financial need may apply for a Pell Grant.

Students at select schools who demonstrate the greatest financial need may apply for an SEOG with a maximum award of $4,000 per year. Individuals who agree to teach in a high-need field at a school that serves low-income families may qualify for a Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant worth up to $4,000.

Students who do not meet the criteria for a Pell Grant and have a parent who died while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan may qualify for an Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant.

To apply for grants, you must first complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine your economic status for grants and scholarships. Once you know this, you can start applying for grants. Pay attention to the award requirements, and fully complete each application.

In most cases, students do not have to pay back the money they receive from grants. Some grants have obligations that qualifying students must meet.

For example, students who receive a TEACH Grant must work as a highly qualified teacher at a certain type of school for a period of four years. If they fail to meet these obligations, the Department of Education converts the grant to a student loan, which the student must pay back.

Grant example

To find out which grants make up your financial aid package, review the reward letter you received from your school. It lists the grants you receive and the amount of each award. For example, if you qualify for a federal Pell Grant, you see how much the government gives you. If you qualify for the maximum Pell Grant, you receive more than $5,000 for the year.

Are you saving for college and not sure if you qualify for grants? Compare your options for savings accounts and maximize your investment.

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