What You Need To Know About College Grants
Getting a good education has always been a challenge for students as well as parents, particularly given its high cost. With today’s economic climate being less than favorable, it is becoming harder and harder for students to find the means to pay for a good college education. While the wealthy may be able to afford these costs easily, less-privileged students aren’t quite so lucky.
A four-year course at a private college would generally cost more than $20,000 each year. The yearly tuition for a public university on the other hand would cost about half that figure, while enrolling in a community college would be a quarter of the cost of enrolling in a private university. Either way, the costs of enrolling in each type of educational institution may still be unaffordable, depending on the student’s financial capability.
One thing that may help ease the burden on less privileged students is a college grant. The primary purpose of a college grant is to provide for a college education. They are primarily intended to help pay for at least part of the tuition of students who wouldn’t otherwise have been able to afford to go college.
The Difference Between A College Grant And A Scholarship Or A Student Loan
College grants are quite different from other forms of financial assistance such as student loans, with the most important distinction being that college grants offer the student what is essentially free money. Student loans on the other hand will have to be repaid eventually.
College grant also differ from traditional scholarships that are awarded to students based on their academic performance, since the awarding of such grants is based solely on financial need.
The Different Categories Of College Grants
College grants generally fall into the following categories:
- Student-specific grants
- Subject-specific grants
- Degree Level grants
- Minority grants
Where College Grants Can Be Obtained
- Federal and state government offices
- College campuses and universities
- Public and private organizations
Federal College Grants
Since the implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act, the federal government has increased its efforts to ensure that more students can avail of funds for college. With the primary and secondary schools’ increased responsibility to provide proper education to all students, more and more students are graduating from high school with the intention of going on to college.
In order to address the college funding needs of these students, the federal government offers the following college grants:
- The Pell Grant.
This was instituted in 1972, and it is still the most widely used source of college financial assistance for millions of students. While the availability of funds may be sketchy on occasion depending on the federal government’s budget–and even due to certain political influences–the Pell grant nevertheless remains a viable source of funds for undergraduate students who would not otherwise be able to pay for college.
- The Academic Competitiveness (AC) Grant.
This is offered to freshmen and sophomores that have performed well academically, and have shown potential for leadership and service. In order to be approved for this grant, the student will have to be eligible for the Pell Grant.
- The National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant (SMART Grant).
This is often used in conjunction with the Academic Competitiveness Grant, and is intended primarily for students of computer science, engineering, mathematics, or similar disciplines, each of whom may receive as much as $4,000. Students who wish to apply for this grant will have to be eligible for the Pell Grant as well.
State College Grants
Many state governments offer grant programs to students that may be based on academic performance, area of study, and need. Oklahoma for instance provides college grants for students in financial need. The state government also offers several “specialized” grant programs.
The state of Michigan for its part offers a selection of grant programs specifically designed for a wide range of different students. Grants are typically offered to undergraduates, students that have shown exemplary academic performance, low-income students, and even adults returning to school.
Finally, Florida offers a range of college grants for financially disadvantaged and disabled students, members of the Hispanic community, and students that have displayed exemplary academic performance.