Grants and Scholarships
Grants and scholarships are two forms of financial aid that are available. Grants are given through the government and to apply, you must file a FAFSA each year. Scholarships are available from a variety of sources, and you must apply for each individually. Finding “free money” that doesn't need to be paid back will reduce the amount of student loans you'll need to borrow, saving you money now and into the future.
Federal Pell Grant
This grant provides monetary assistance to undergraduate students who exhibit financial need and have not yet earned either a bachelor's or a professional degree. Both full-time and part-time students are eligible. Unlike loans, Pell Grants are not repaid. They are a financial incentive to advance your education. Awards may range from $400 to $5,350 annually. To apply, you must complete the FAFSA.
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)
This grant provides monetary assistance to undergraduate students who exhibit exceptional financial need and have not yet earned either a bachelor's or a professional degree. Both full-time and part-time students are eligible. Like Pell Grants, this grant does not have to be repaid. Awards may range from $100 to $4,000 annually. To apply, you must complete the FAFSA.
These grants and their awards vary by state. You should contact your high school guidance counselor or your state's higher education authority for details and application deadlines.
Scholarship awards vary, and there are thousands of scholarships out there for students. It's important to begin looking for them early. These resources can make the search easier:
Sites such as fastweb.com can make searching for the right scholarship easy.
- public libraries
The reference section of the library is an excellent place to begin. Look for books such as the Annual Register of Grant Support.
- professional organizations
A number of professional and community organizations offer scholarships, such as the Lions Club, the Girl Scouts and the Boy Scouts.
Some employers offer their employees and their children scholarship opportunities.
- high school guidance counselors
These professionals may know about grants and scholarships that specifically match you and your interests.
- financial aid professionals at the schools that interest you
They can provide you with detailed information on the types of aid available from their school, the required applications and deadlines.