Grants are finanncial aid awards that do not have to be repaid. Most grant programs are based upon financial need and may be used to help pay for tution, room and board, books and other fees. Most grants also require the student file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). In addition to the FAFSA, some programs may request additional documentation such as tax returns and bank statements in order to determine the student’s financial need. Grants come from a variety of sources including the federal government, state agencies and many colleges and universities.
Students who complete the FAFSA may be offered one or more of the following federal grants if their Expected Family Income (EFC) meets eligibility guidelines.
- Pell Grant
Students who have not received a bachelor’s degree, professional degree, or those in a post-baccalaureate teaching certificate program may qualify for the Pell Grant. The amount of the grant will be based upon financial need, enrollment status (part-time or full-time), cost to attend school, and whether or not the student will be enrolled for a full academic year. The maximum award is $5,550 a year. Students under 24 years of age, who are enrolled at least part-time and have lost a parent (or guardian) as result of military service in Iraq or Afghanistan after September 11, 2001, will receive the full amount. The Pell Grant program now limits funding to a total of 12 semesters.
- Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)
Undergraduate students with exceptional financial need will be considered for SEOG. Those students with lowest Expected Family Contribution (EFC) will be considered first as there is a limited amount of funding allocated to each school for this program. Grant amounts range from $100 – $4,000 a year and are disbursed in two payments. Your school’s financial aid office will determine your eligibility and the amount available to you will be included in your financial aid award letter.
- Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant Program
Created through the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007, TEACH Grants of up to $4,000 are awarded to students who intend to teach in public or private schools that serve low-income students. In exchange for the grant funding, students agree to teach full-time in a public or private elementary or secondary school that serves low-income students for a minimum of four (4) years within eight (8) years of graduating. If the student fails to meet this requirement, the grant will be converted to a Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loan.
- Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant
A student who is under 24 years of age, enrolled at least part-time and NOT qualified to receive the Pell Grant may be eligible for the Iraq and Afghanistan Grant if his/her parent (or guardian) died in Iraq or Afghanistan as a result of military service performed after September 11, 2001. The amount of the grant is equal to the Pell Grant maximum ($5,550), but cannot exceed the cost of attendance.
State Aid & College-based Assistance
Many states and universities offer grant opportunities for students who meet federal financial need guidelines. Students may also be offered grants based on academic achievement, enrollment in a specific type of college/university, for being a first generation college student and more. Here is a sampling of some of the state and college grant programs currently available.
- New York State Tuition Assistance Program (TAP)
Eligible students may receive up to $5,000 annually to assist with tuition at approved New York colleges and universities. Students must be U.S. citizens, legal residents of New York, attend college full-time and meet certain academic standards. A Part-Time TAP is also available.
- Cal Grants
- California offers several different grant programs for students. Entitlement awards (Cal Grant A, B & C) are guaranteed if the student meets the qualifications for the award. Depending upon where the student studies and level of enrollment, grant amounts can range from $576 to $12,192 per year. Competitive Cal Grant awards, which are not guaranteed, may be offered to students from low- to middle-income families who also achieve higher academic standards.
- The Westfield State University Housing Grant
Westfield State University offers a grant to cover housing fees to students who reside on campus and demonstrate need.
Students should explore their grant options by contacting their intended college financial aid office, as well as reviewing available awards offered through their state higher education website. Additional grant opportunities may also be located by using a free online scholarship search service, such as ScholarshipExperts.com.