College Grants 101: About, Answers, And Applying

Grants are similar to scholarships in that they do not have to be repaid. The most common grants are made available through federal government and state agencies, and not private funds. The Federal Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, and National SMART Grant are among the most common grants available for college. To apply for all Federal Grants, you must complete a FAFSA.

The Federal Pell Grant

The Federal Pell Grant is the largest federal grant program and is based on financial need. Since the Federal Pell Grant is based on financial need only, there is no minimum grade point average or other academic requirements (besides attending an eligible school). In order to find out if your school is eligible for the Federal Pell Grant, contact your school’s financial aid department. You may be eligible for a Federal Pell Grant if you comply with the following:

1. Are pursuing your first undergraduate degree
2. Are a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen
3. Have a high school diploma, GED, or demonstrate the ability to benefit from the program offered
4. Are not Incarcerated
5. Do not owe a refund on a Title IV grant
6. Are not in default on a Title IV loan
7. Have registered with the Selective Service

Can Part Time Students Receive A Pell Grant?
A part time student may be eligible for the federal Pell Grant, however college students that fall below part or half time will not be eligible.

How Much Money Can I Get From A Pell Grant?
Maximum Federal Pell Grant award amounts can change yearly. The amount a student is awarded in Pell Grant funds will depend on a number of factors including the students EFC, cost of attendance, and the amount of time a student attends or is enrolled in school. Some schools may pay the student their federal Pell Grant award directly, while others may apply the Pell Grant award as a credit to the students account. Schools are required to disburse a students Pell Grant award once per term (semester, trimmest, or quarter, depending on which the students school uses). The school will notify any and all students receiving a Pell Grant about the method of disbursement/payment, and the schedule for payments.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant

A Federal SEOG Grant or Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, provides need-based grants to low-income undergraduate college students with exceptional financial need. Not every college student is eligible for these type of federal grants since they are based on your financial need and income level. Funding for the Federal SEOG Grant (Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant) is provided to postsecondary instructions by the U.S. Department of Education, and the amount awarded by the grant ranges.

Who is eligible for the Federal SEOG Grant?

Federal Pell Grant recipients receive priority for SEOG funds, and priority for the Federal SEOG Grant is given to students with the lowest Expected Family Contribution (EFCs). Your EFC will be calculated with the following elements in mind:

1. Student’s income and assets (if the student is independent)
2. Parent’s income and assets (if the student is dependent)
3. Family household size
4. Number of family members (excluding parents) attending postsecondary institutions.

National SMART Grant

National SMART Grant stands for Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent. The National SMART Grant awards up to $4,000 for the third and fourth years of a full time students undergraduate study who are majoring in physical sciences, life sciences, computer sciences, mathematics, technology, engineering, or in a foreign language determined critical to national security. You may be eligible for a National SMART Grant if you comply with the following:

1. Have maintained a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 in coursework required for the major
2. Are a U.S. citizen
3. Are eligible to receive a Pell Grant
4. Are enrolled as a full-time third or fourth year student in a baccalaureate degree program
5. Are you enrolled in an eligible major

Merit Based Grants for College

Merit Based Grants for college, unlike income based grants are grants that do not solely depend on your income needs. Typically, most Merit Based Grants for college will require a combination of academic requirements AND income based requirements from the applying student. State grants, grants funded by businesses and/or organizations are all examples of Merit Based Grants for college. Most states will also offer Merit Based Grants for college to their residents. Specific qualifications differ from one Merit Based Grant to another, but generally most Merit Based Grants have a GPA requirement. If you have a GPA of 3.0 or above, you will generally qualify for some Merit Based Grants. Income status may be a factor in determining who has the greater need for the grant, but a good GPA will typically put you in the “running” for grant consideration.

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