One of the most widely available federally-funded education grants is FSEOG, or the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant.
Like the better known Federal Pell Grant program, FSEOG provides money to low-income undergraduate students. Also like the Pell Grant, it doesn’t need to be repaid after graduation, which makes it an ideal source of financial aid.
Approximately 4000 colleges and universities participate in the FSEOG program. Block grants are made to these institutions, with the stipulation that the money go to the neediest undergraduates.
Need is based on a family’s Expected Family Contribution, or EFC, which is determined by the parents’ income and assets (or the student’s income and assets, if he or she is independent), the number of people in the household, and the number of family members (excluding parents) currently enrolled in college. The EFC is also affected by whether or not the student is dependent, as well as whether the student has dependents of his or her own.
Not every college and university participates in the FSEOG program. In order to receive FSEOG funds, a school must contribute a quarter of the student’s overall FSEOG grant. Schools may participate in the program one year and not the next. Furthermore, the grants are awarded at the school’s discretion as a means of supplementing the Federal Pell Grant, so the fact that the school participates in the program—or has participated in the past—and that a student’s family has a demonstrated need does not automatically guarantee that a student will receive the FSEOG grant.
Depending on how much funding is available and how the school calculates need, a student might receive between $100 and $4,000. Funding levels can change annually. The grant will either be paid to the student directly in the form of a check, or simply credited to the student’s account. Federal guidelines stipulate that the student must be paid at least once a term.
A school’s financial aid officer will be the best source of information about the FSEOG. He or she can tell the student if they’re a good candidate, help them fill out the paperwork (usually a FAFSA, or Federal Application for Student Assistance), and notify them of their eligibility.
To learn more about the FSEOG program, contact the U.S. Department of Education.