It’s natural in hard economic times to look at going back to school. But education is expensive, and the costs—including tuition, textbooks, living expenses, and daycare—are overwhelming. When looking to fund your educational endeavors, consider applying for school grants.
Grants are gifts, and they’re your best source of financial aid. Grants for school are frequently awarded based on financial need and other factors, and they do not need to be repaid.
There are a number of grant programs that help people go back to school. The most widely available is the Federal Pell Grant program. Pell Grants are awarded to undergraduates pursuing their first bachelor’s degree.
The amount of the grant is based on a number of factors: the amount you or your family expect to contribute, the cost of attending your chosen school, and whether you are a full or part-time student. Check with your school’s financial aid officer to see if you are eligible.
Even if you receive a Pell Grant, though, it won’t pay for everything. Pell Grants are often supplemented with the Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (or FSEOG). FSEOGs are given in block amounts to particular schools, which in turn dole out the money to their neediest students based on their own internal calculations. Your financial aid officer can tell you if your school participates in FSEOG, and whether or not you are eligible.
The Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership (or LEAP) is another federally-funded grant program. Like the Pell Grant and FSEOG, LEAP is awarded based on demonstrated financial need.
Other grants are funded by the states. The easiest way to find out which grants your state offers is by visiting your state’s Department of Education website. Legal residence is necessary, usually for a minimum amount of time.
Your college or university will also have institutional grants. Some will be for recent high school graduates and first-semester students; others will be for returning students who have completed a certain number of hours or are enrolled in a particular degree program (such as pre-med or pre-law).
Public and private organizations are also excellent sources of educational funds. Look especially at fraternal organizations like the Kiwanis, the Masons, and the Eagles.
Since the 1970′s, more and more school grants are being offered to students of minority status. Grant programs that aid African-Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, and Asian-Americans are on the rise, and the amount they fund are often very generous.