There is a lot of buzz these days about the availability of free money in the form of grants and scholarships for which the majority of people can apply. Much of this is hype; relatively bogus information promoted by scam websites that may promise to help people apply or qualify for grants for a fee.
There are, however, many legitimate grant opportunities available to help fund your post secondary education.
One of the most popular types of grants given out by both the federal and state governments is the college grant. These are grants given mostly to undergraduates to help out with tuition and other college costs. It is fairly easy for anyone who can show that they have a certain financial need to receive these grants.
As far as other types of grants go, the opportunities are mostly on the state level or given out by private foundations. It’s important to understand the basic monetary flow that grants follow. The federal government awards grant money mainly to organizations, rather than individuals.
There may be one or two exceptions, but for the most part grant money is allocated at the federal level, proceeds to some state governmental office or simply a business or nonprofit organization somewhere in the US, and from there is occasionally given out to qualifying individuals.
So there is, not surprisingly, a kind of trickle down effect. As far as government money goes, it generally originates at the top and works its way down through one or more organizational levels before going to any individuals.
We’re speaking here of government grants. The other side of the equation involves private grants.
These grants do not originate with the Federal government but with private grant foundations and companies. These, then tend to work on the local level too – they are often concentrated in the states or regions where the organization does business. They may be national in scope as well, but usually they have some kind of regional applicability. If they don’t have regional applicability, they have some focus that narrows down the number of people that can apply – such as ethnicity and types of projects or undertakings fore which the grant will be used.
So the bottom line is that if you want to apply for a specific kind of grant, it pays to think locally (see our grants and scholarships by state page for listings of regional funding opportunities).
By far the easiest types of grants to get are educational grants and scholarships. People attending college and meeting various criteria can apply for these grants.
The following 20 grants include the few major federal educational grants and then some foundation based college scholarship programs. This is educationally based free money.
It’s up to you to find out what grants are offered in your particular state of residence for other than educational purposes. Due to the specificity of grant requirements and uses this is a much better approach than trying to list “popular” types of grants that may or may not be offered in a particular state and may or may not apply to various individuals. Use our grants by state page and select your particular state to get access to specific information on other grants and scholarships which may be available to you.
1. Pell Grants
Most people are familiar with Pell grants. It is awarded to undergraduate college students to help with educational costs. The way to apply for it is to fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form. Grant award amounts vary, and the most a student can expect to see is about $5000 for a year of study. Eligibility is determined on the basis of what is called the EFC (or Expected Family Contribution) which is an assessment of how much an applicant or his or her family can contribute to tuition costs.
These grants are also given out at the federal level to assist students with college expenses. They are similar to the Pell but employ a matching funds program in which the school pays for 25% of the grant amount while the federal government pays for 75%. Again the way to apply for this grant is to fill of the FAFSA form.
This grant is awarded to academically promising undergrads. So grades count. The student must maintain at least a 3.0 grade point average in order to continue to be eligible. Fill out the FAFSA to apply.
4. SMART grants
SMART (Science and Math Access to Retain Talent) grants are awarded to students that are eligible for Pell grants and who are majoring in math and/or science related courses. Like the other grants above it can be combined with Pell grants. Fill out the FAFSA to apply.
5. TEACH grants
TEACH stands for Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education. They seem to be getting more and more into acronyms with these grants don’t they? These grants are for students enrolled in programs that will result in teaching careers. This is available to both undergrad level students as well as people involved in continuing education.
This grant is sponsored by the Cappex foundation in Illinois to assist high school and college students with college expenses. Award amount is $1000. As the name implies a specific GPA is not required.
Supercollege.com, in Belmont California, donates part of the proceeds from its book sales as scholarship money. The award amount is $1500.00
Sponsored by loan giant Sallie Mae, this scholarship is awarded to students from the high school to graduate level by random drawing.
This grant is offered by VastHorizon Media. The award amount is $2000 and it is given to US residents over 18 for college expenses. It is offered for all educational levels and can even be used for online programs.
This grant is sponsored by The American Association of University Women (AAUW) Educational Foundation. It is designed to help college educated women who require further training to progress in their chosen career fields.
Offered by Executive Women International (EWI). However it is not only for women. It is offered to single parents, individuals newly in the workforce, and laid off or displaced workers, all for the purpose of beginning or furthering their education and making life transitions.
AFSA stands for American Foreign Service Association. This grant is only offered to the dependents of US government Foreign Service employees. The award amount is $2500 to the student and $500 to his or her school.
This is sponsored by the Alpha Kappa Alpha Educational Advancement Foundation Inc. It is aimed at helping undergrad and grad students overcome financial hardship and progress with their education. A 2.5 GPA is required.
The only requirement here is that the applicant has to be a member of the ADO (The American Darts Organization) and be a quarter finalist in the ADO Youth Playoff program, as well as being enrolled in a degree granting program with at least a 2.0 GPA. So if that’s you, go ahead and apply. The award amount is between $500 and $1500.
15. Best Buy Scholarships
Sponsored by good old Best Buy stores, this is simply to assist students with college. Applicants must live within 75 miles of a BestBuy store and have at least a 2.5 GPA. The award amount is $1000.
16. Bonner Scholarship
The Bonner foundation awards community service scholarships to students attending some participating colleges. The student must meet yearly community service obligations. The award amount varies.
Common Knowledge Scholarship Foundation (CKSF) awards variable amounts to both high school and college students. Applicants register online and must pass quizzes to qualify.
18. Davidson Fellows Award
The Davidson institute for talent development awards a quite substantial amount – $50,000 – to youth involved in innovative, “outside the box” work in a variety of disciplines.
This is not offered by the computer company Dell, but rather the Michael and Susan Dell foundation. It is awarded to underprivileged high school seniors. 2.4 GPA required.
20. Educational Advancement Foundation Merit Scholarship
This grant is sponsored by The Alpha Kappa Alpha Educational Advancement Foundation Inc. It is given to academically talented students from the undergraduate sophomore to the graduate level. The top award amount is $2500.