Grants are a form of financial aid that are awarded on the basis of financial need that do not need to be repaid. The federal government, State governments, schools, private organizations and private individuals are all sources of grants. Usually, there is no separate application for these grants. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) allows you to automatically apply for just about all forms of aid, including grants.
The Pell Grant and the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) are the primary forms of grants awarded by the Federal Government. Both of these grants are usually reserved for families that demonstrate exceptional financial need. You can apply for both grants by submitting a FAFSA. Only one academic requirement applies for freshman applicants, which is that you either graduate from high school or that you can document a comparable secondary education, such as with a GED. You must maintain what is referred to as “satisfactory progress” after you receive these grants. “Satisfactory progress” is defined by the government as C average.
There are two big differences between Pell Grants and other forms of financial aid. With Pell Grants, students that are part-time (less than half-time) and students who attend college for less than a full academic year may still be able to receive at least a partial Pell Grant.
Your own state can also be a source of grants. To be eligible you must be a state resident and usually attend a state-supported public college, although this is not required in California. In addition, you must be enrolled at least half time and, in some instances, maintain satisfactory academic progress. These grants may be guaranteed to students with a specified grade point average or class ranking in high school or reserved for certain expenses, such as fees, books and supplies.
School-based and Private Grants
Some colleges, particularly private colleges, also award their own grants. Because of their academic criteria, however; in many cases these grants are hard to distinguish from scholarships. These criteria are not always published. Colleges usually are able to adjust the grant size in order to meet the needs of financially eligible students based on academic qualifications.
Private organizations, companies, associations, foundations and individuals also award grants. The criteria for these grants are usually quite similar to those of the colleges that administer them.
If you are admitted to a college and your family has a greater-than-average financial need, it’s quite likely that you will be eligible for grants. Usually you do not need to do anymore than submit the FAFSA. Financial need is normally considered before academic achievement, making grants easier to qualify for than scholarships. In addition, they don’t have to be repaid, which make them the most desirable form of financial aid.