College Grants

With the massive tuition fees that one has to pay for colleges, there are many people for whom going to college just remains a dream. Fortunately, these colleges also recognize the necessity of providing scholarships and grants to deserving candidates, and make their dreams of going to college come true. A college grant is similar to a scholarship. However, unlike scholarships, where there is no follow-up on the progress the students makes, grants require a service, and the organization that provides the grants generally checks on the progress the student makes, and ensures that all obligations are properly met. These are usually awarded to graduate students in an effort to fund research or encourage study in a particular field or topic. It is usually the case where grants are not provided towards tuition fees but for expenses necessary to complete research. There are very few grants available for undergraduate students. The grant amounts vary greatly and can range from $100 to even $100,000.

Applying for a College Grant

First, you need to ascertain the reason for which you are going to apply for a grant, be it degree-based, program-based, or even a minority grant. Grants are given on certain factors like tuition cost, family income, academic achievements, field of study, minority category, etc. Family assets, student dependency, and expected family contribution are also taken into consideration at this time. Things that need to be in order from the student who is applying are basic requirements like high school diploma, US citizenship / eligible foreigner, SSN, no criminal record, and no default on a student loam repayment. After taking all factors into account and scrutinizing the application, the student will receive a report which states all the eligibility details. Some things to keep in mind are: submit your application on time, make sure you know what you are applying for exactly, and that you are eligible for the same, and confirm that your documentation is all in place.

Types of College Grants

There are various types of grants provided by different organizations. The categories under which the grants are provided are generally divided as student specific, subject specific, degree level or for a minority community. Some of the common types of college grants are as follows.

Federal Grants
These grants are provided by the federal government. Some of the famous and commonly sought grants are the Pell grant that has been in existence since 1972, and has provided funding to millions of low-income students. Although this program is under the strict control of the federal government's budget, it has been a very valuable source of funding. Those students who do not have a bachelor's degree as yet, and are trying to enroll in a post-secondary institution which recognizes the grant can apply. Also, those post-graduate students who are who want to go in for a master's degree but cannot afford the school's tuition cost are eligible to apply. Another commonly sought grant is the Academic Competitiveness (AC) Grant which is available to undergraduate freshman and sophomores who have outstanding academic records and have passed with honors, and have also demonstrated aptitude for leadership and service. This is a perfect example of a student-based grant. Then there is the SMART, also known as The National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant. This is basically for third and fourth year students who are unable to continue their education due to costs involved. This grants is eligible for those who are pursuing a degree in mathematics, computer sciences, biology, chemistry, physics, liberal arts, and engineering.

State Grants
Many states in the United States too have grant programs that are provided to resident students, and are based on merit, need, and area of study. The Florida Department of Education provides grants to wanting to study in the state itself. There is also the FSAG that aspiring students can avail. California Cal Grant Program is there based on a student's GPA and need for financial assistance. The Pennsylvania State Grant Program is there to provide grants to those students who have been accepted into a college or university approved by the PHEAA. The Wisconsin Higher Educational Aids Board also has grants for those who want to study in the state. It also provides for talented students based on some determining factors, by means of special program grants. Oklahoma provides needs-based grants and specialized grant programs. The grant programs of Michigan state are designed for a variety of students like undergraduates, academically gifted, low-income and adult students. Likewise, nearly every state government provides some sort of a grant for higher education. There are different types of assistance that can be availed, depending on various factors like merit, financial needs, etc.

Minorities Grants
African-American student grants have become hugely popular these days. As a matter of fact, the percentage of students belonging to the minorities background and have graduated with a four-year degree has risen dramatically. Around 40 colleges and universities in the US are catering to grants specifically for African-Americans. If you are a female African-American student, then you must contact Spelman College, as currently it is the most popular college in the United States that is nurturing the needs female African-American students. States like Arizona, Texas, California, and Florida are known to have Hispanic serving colleges that offer grants especially for the Hispanic community. Native Americans, besides being the smallest minority student group, are also the most disadvantaged. For them, there are the Native American Grants. Then there is the Grants for Asian American Students, which caters to the Asian Americans, who are the fastest growing ethnic population in the US.

Subject Specific Grants
These grants are very common, especially considering the fact that many professional organizations would like to have some research done on the product of their organization. Corporations spend million of dollars on grants with the objective of attracting academically driven and talented students to their corporate folds. Specifically for the health care industry, the US Department of Health and Human Services provides grants for students who are disadvantaged. Fields like nursing and teaching, which need extra funding due to resource challenges, mainly due to the fact that the enrollment rate is much lesser than the number of jobs that are needed to be filled, are awarded grants to boost the sector in the overall market scenario.

Student Specific Grants
Some grants have been designed keeping a specific category of students in mind. The most common categories are non-traditional (like adult students), low-income (or disadvantaged), graduate, undergraduate, high school and military. There are also various grants available for those who want to pursue a doctoral degree. There are grants that target the low-income range of students. Courses offered include evening and weekend classes, that embrace especially those who are working and cannot afford a higher education due to monetary issues.

Women Grants
The grant programs that have been designed for women help promote the participation of women in under-represented degree programs like science, mathematics and business. The American Association of University Women, which is considered to be one of the most influential organizations in the United States, offers a wide variety of grants to minority and disadvantaged women who want to return to college and pursue a degree. Grants are promoted for women especially is sectors like nursing, medical research, math, science and engineering. The most popular associations providing grants for women are The National Physical Science Consortium and The National Black Nurses Association.

If you are a student or your child wants to go to college, or you know somebody who needs these grants in order to go to college, then you can contact the local schools in your district and find out more about the grants that can be availed. A fair academic requirement is a must. Every individual has a right to an education, and many organizations make an enormous effort to ensure that you receive a good education. You just need to make an effort to approach them, and if you meet their requirements, then they usually do everything possible to help you out.
By Ranjan Shandilya