College expenses can be rough, especially when you are not prepared for them. But if you don’t have the ability to cover the costs of college, don’t panic! Instead, consider applying for college grants to relieve the financial strain. Want to know more? Here’s everything you need to know about grants for college.

What is a Grant for College?

Grant Definition

Grants are non-repayable funds or products disbursed or awarded by a grantmaker to a recipient. Grants are usually received for academic prowess or financial need, making them essentially free money.

Grantmakers are often a government department, corporation, foundation, or trust. Grant recipients can be, among other things, a nonprofit entity, educational institution, business, or an individual.

Scholarships vs Grants

Scholarships are usually merit-based. These are awarded based on accomplishments like academic achievements. Grants are usually need-based. These are awarded based on financial need rather than academic merit.

Both grants and scholarships are financial awards or gift aid and have certain requirements to receive (GPA, financial need, field of study, race/ethnicity, gender, etc). Unlike loans, grants and scholarships do not have to be repaid (except under certain circumstances). 

Types of Grants

Government grants are divided into two categories: federal and state. Grants offered by the state vary, but many use the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form to determine which students will receive these grants. Grants offered by the federal government are open to all eligible students in the U.S.

Pell Grants

Federal Pell Grants usually are awarded only to undergraduate students with exceptional financial need. These undergraduates cannot have earned a bachelor’s, graduate, or professional degree.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)

FSEOG Grants are awarded to students who have been determined to have the most financial need by the financial aid office. These students must have filled out a FAFSA for the financial aid office to determine their financial need. Recipients of a FSEOG Grant can receive between $100 and $4,000 a year.


TEACH is an acronym for Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant. These grants of up to $4,000 a year are provided by the TEACH Grant program to students who are completing or planning to complete coursework needed to begin a career in teaching, as well as four years of qualifying teaching.

Non-government grants can be distributed by a number of different sources. To find a grant that fits your needs, check the Database of College Grants to find grants you are eligible for and start applying ASAP!

How to Apply for Grants

Grant Application

Start applying in high school for your freshman year of college. You do not want to find yourself in college without funds to pay for tuition, fees, housing, etc. The earlier you apply, the better. In fact, you can begin applying for some grants in sophomore and freshman years of high school.

Use a FAFSA for Federal Grants. Completing your FAFSA form is the first step in the application process, as it determines your financial status. Grants may be offered to you because of your FAFSA.

Complete applications and meet requirements. The application process is different for every grant, but once you are sure you want to apply, obtain and complete any applications and turn them in on time. As you’re applying, try to fill requirements like essays and certifications.

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