If you’re wondering how to apply for a school grant, then you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we will explore school grants as an option for getting through college. We will first understand how school grants work, their eligibility criteria, and finally, the process of applying to them.
What are School Grants?
A school grant can be defined as monetary aid, usually offered by a non-profit entity to financially needy students in order to help them complete an educational program. A grant can range from a few thousand dollars to covering the entire cost of a college degree.
School grants are offered by public as well as private entities. The government is the largest public organization of this kind, doling out billions of dollars in financial aid to underprivileged students. Besides the government, there are countless other public and private organizations engaged in assisting students.
Who is Eligible for a School Grant?
The basic premise for school grants is that education is a right, and not a privilege. This means that everyone, regardless of his or her financial background, should be able to afford higher education. Thus, technically, any student seeking higher education in need of financial aid is eligible to receive school grants. Consequently, to be eligible for most school grants, all you need to do is demonstrate financial need – which, in the current economic conditions, is a reality faced by most students.
What are the Different Types of School Grants?
Pell Grants and the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG) are the two most popular school grants available today. Besides, there are various privately funded school grants with their own particular eligibility criteria.
Pell Grants are the most popular form of public grants and are quite easily available to most students who can demonstrate financial eligibility. Funded by the US Government, these grants require that the applicant be an American citizen, or an eligible non-citizen (requirements for this vary), and enrolled in an undergraduate course in any recognized college across America. In addition, the applicant must also hold a high school diploma.
Who gets the Pell Grant is determined using a formula termed the ‘Expected Family Contribution’. This formula looks at a family’s income and the applicant’s current financial needs to determine the amount and the recipient of the grant. The value of this grant varies, but is generally around $5000 per year for an approved student.
The other popular school grant is the FSEOG (Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant). Like the Pell Grant, it too looks at an applicant’s financial need. Unlike the Pell Grant, however, the FSEOG covers 75% of an approved student’s financial needs, while the student himself has to shoulder the remaining 25%.
Private school grants vary in their endowment and eligibility, and are beyond the scope of this article which deals largely with how to apply for school grants. You have to apply to these grants individually as their requirements vary a lot.
How to Apply for School Grants?
The first step in applying for school grants is to fill in the Federal Applications for Student Aid Form (FAFSA). This is a rite of passage for every high school student seeking admission to a college course and is the main method through which eligibility for Pell and FSEOG grants is determined. The FAFSA is available online and can also be picked up at universities, libraries, and high schools.
The FAFSA is basically divided into four sections.
Section I deals with your basic information such as your name, address, social security number, etc. This is a relatively straightforward section and should be a breeze to fill through.
Section II deals with questions related to your dependency status. Since most applicants to college are still in their senior year of high school, they are dependent on their parents.
Section III of the FAFSA requires you to specify the income status of your parents. This is an important section if you are still a dependent and will be crucial in determining whether you are eligible for a grant, and if yes, the grant amount.
Section IV requires you to disclose your own income and tax information. For applicants still dependent on their parents, this is, obviously, a superfluous section. For older applicants, however, the income information will dictate whether you get a grant or not.
In addition to the completed form, you will also be required to submit documents of income proof or past tax returns (of you or your parents depending on your dependency status).
Once you submit the FAFSA, you will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR). This report contains a summary of the information provided in your FAFSA, and a copy of it is sent to your university as well. The SAR will report whether you are eligible for a grant or not.
So there you have it – all the answers you need to the question, ‘how to apply for school grants?’!