Grant and scholarships are essentially free money. Unlike student loans, you don’t need to pay them back once your degree is complete. However, not everyone can get a grant or scholarship. You need to prove your worthiness for financial aid to be awarded a grant or scholarships. These grants can come from the government, private organizations, colleges, and institutions. You are expected to meet certain criteria to avail of grants.
Luckily, the U.S government offers several grants for deserving candidates at all levels of education. In a nutshell, grant can come from government, states, colleges, and universities, as well as from for-profit organizations. Private institutions offer more money in grants compared to public institutions. The amount of grant a candidate receives is based on several factors including the needs of the student and institution he is admitted. To avail grants, students must submit their FAFSA application. Typically, the application opens on Oct 1 and ends on June 30. The deadline for the application, however, varies across states.
It is advised to complete FASA forms as soon as they arrive, as the chances of getting a grant are significantly higher. Grants are limited every year, so the chances of those who submit sooner are better.
Grants vs scholarships
Grants are similar to scholarships in that they both award money and doesn’t require benefactors to return, unlike student loans. Grants are however awarded after assessment of candidate’s need for financial aid. Scholarships, on the other hand, are awarded after a candidate’s achievement, merit, or characteristics. Scholarship can come from campus or outside the campus. For instance, World Data Science Initiative collaborates with several U.S universities and colleges to facilitate data science education by offering university funding, which is further extended to students by universities.
Additionally, generous donors of the university can set up scholarships. Several universities have their own scholarships which are awarded to both international and domestic students. Compared to grants, scholarships are found to be a more desirable form of financial aid because they often do not require students to re-apply and are not dependent on the student’s continual need for aid. Scholarships are generally not meant for four years of the program; some cover complete undergraduate or graduate programs.
Students should take care that financial aid officers often use scholarships and grants interchangeably, but both differ in many ways. One important aspect in which they differ is the process of application which can vary across scholarships and colleges. Furthermore, conditions for grants vary each year depending on the financial need of the student’s family. Scholarships, however, remain the same.
You should check with the financial aid office of the institution of your choice to know the conditions for scholarships and grants. Most importantly, keep a tab on the deadline of applications for both grants and scholarships. College and university grants often have small time windows.
Popular U.S Education Grants
Pell Grants are the largest grant program offered by the U.S Department of Education to students looking to pursue undergraduate programs. The grant offers anywhere between $650 to $6,195. The amount of grant depends on a number of factors including EFC (Expected Family contribution), which is calculated by the department, the students ‘status as part-time or full-time, and the student’s planned length of attendance. The student receives a full amount of grants from the participating institution in the program.
A student with zero EFC is likely to receive the highest amount of grant, while a family with EFC equal to more than 5576 is not eligible for the Pell grant. To avail of this grant, families are required to fill FAFSA form.
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity
FSEOG is another federal grant awarded by institutions. However, not all institutions are part of this program. So it is advised to check if the institution of your choice offers this grant. You can receive anywhere between $100 and $4000. The amount of grant depends on the financial needs of the student, the aid a student is already receiving, and the remaining amount of FSEOG money available with the institution. Once an institution runs out of allotted FSEOG money, the dissemination of grants is stopped. It is one of the reasons, families are advised to fill out FAFSA as early as possible.