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Have Free Money for School "Granted" to You!
by Brooke Heath

You have been accepted into the school of your dreams! You have taken the first step to better yourself and gain an education. But have you considered how you will pay for it? Before you take out your student loans, look into the option of having free money "granted" to you!


Grants are similar to scholarships in that they do not need to be repaid. However, unlike scholarships, they are completely need-based. A student's need is determined by the expected family contribution (EFC), which is the amount that a student or his or her family will contribute to fund the student's education. Do not assume that you will not qualify for a grant, because the criteria to receive a grant can differ with each different type of grant. The types of grants can range from those obtained through the federal government to those that are awarded by schools.

Federal Pell Grants

Pell Grants are federal grants that are available to undergraduate students who have yet to earn a bachelor or professional degree. The maximum Pell Grant award for the 2007-2008 year (July 1, 2007, to June 30, 2008) is $4,310. The maximum amount can fluctuate each year, as program funding is the main factor involved in determining the award amount.

There are several variables that determine the amount that a student will receive with his or her Pell Grant. Such variables include not only financial need, but also the cost of attendance at the school, the student's enrollment status (i.e. full-time or part-time) and the amount of time that the student plans to attend school.

For those students who are eligible to receive Pell Grants, their money may be disbursed in the following methods:

  • The funds can be applied to the cost of attendance
  • The school can pay the student directly by check
  • A combination of the preceding methods may be used
The schools must disburse the funds to the students at least time each semester.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants

These grants, also known as FSEOG, are also available to undergraduate students who demonstrate exceptional financial need. Those who are awarded Pell Grants and have the lowest EFC will be the first ones to receive FSEOGs. FSEOG award amounts range from $100 to $4,000 each year. This depends on the time that the student applies, his or her financial need, the available funding at the school that the student is attending, and finally, the school's financial aid policies.

As with Pell Grants, FSEOGs can be disbursed as such:

  • The funds can be applied to the cost of attendance
  • The school can pay the student directly by check
  • A combination of the preceding methods may be used
Again, the school must disburse the funds to the students at least once per semester.

The Academic Competitiveness Grant

As of July 1, 2006, two more grant programs for full-time students are available. The Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG) is one of the two programs. This program will award up to $750 to undergraduate students during their first year of study, and up to $1,300 for the second year.

This program is available to students who are eligible for a Pell Grant, although it includes other requirements as well. For a detailed explanation of this new grant program, visit the program's website.

The National Science & Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant

The other new grant program is the National Science & Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant (National SMART Grant). This program is available to undergraduate students majoring in physical, life or computer sciences; mathematics, technology, or engineering; or in a foreign language determined critical to national security, in their third and fourth years of college. The student must also have maintained a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.0 in coursework required for the major.

The National SMART Grant will provide up to $4,000 for each of the third and fourth years of undergraduate study. For more information about this new grant program, visit the Smart Grant website.

State Grants

In addition to the federal grants that are available, most states offer grants also offer grants to residents of their state. To learn about grants that are offered in your state, contact your state's board of education or website.

Institutional Grants

Individual colleges and universities offer grants to recruit top students or when federal grants will not cover the entire cost of attendance. To learn more about these grants, meet with a financial aid counselor at your college or prospective college.

How to Apply

The first step to apply for these grants is to complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, also known as the FAFSA form. This form will give the federal government and your state government information about your EFC and other information that will allow them to determine your financial need, and eligibility for a grant. Again, even if you do not think that you will qualify for a grant, you should still complete a FAFSA. The FAFSA is necessary for any kind of federal financial aid, such as work-study and federal student loans, so even if you do not qualify for grants, you may qualify for something else that will assist you with funding your schooling.

EdFed, Helping Students

No matter what route you choose to take to pay for your schooling, EdFed is here to help. At EdFed, we are dedicated to helping students achieve their educational goals!


Article Title : Have Free Money for School “Granted” to You!
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Education is one of the most basic right of any human, but with the increase in prices and the costs involved in education this has made these rights turn into a privilege which very few can enjoy. Any normal person today in the whole of United States has to take an education loan at one point of time to pay for their education fees.

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Schools Will No Longer Receive Paper FAFSA Forms
(September 20, 2007)

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