What Are Need Based Grants?

Need based grants are simply grants that are awarded on the basis of financial need.

The majority of college grants distributed by federal government and state governments are awarded on the basis of need. This may not be the only criterion, but it is usually one of the major determining factors. It should be noted that essentially all grants are need based grants, since if someone did not need any money they would not be applying for a grant.

But by “need based” usually what is meant is that a student and/or his family are experiencing financial need for basic access to education and so on. Thus a business or research grant would probably not be considered a need based grant in the same sense, because these types of grants are based on goals that don’t affect the basic needs of the individual (i.e. For education, employment, etc.) as directly.

Some Need Based College Grants

There are a number of common and well known need based grants that the federal government offers. These are for the most part undergraduate grants. They are need based grants awarded to college students based on income information as well as a number of other criteria. Let’s take a look at a few of them:

Pell Grant

This is one of the most commonly awarded need based grants for undergraduate college students. It takes into account financial need as the primary factor. Usually the grant is more or less guaranteed as long as income requirements are met. The income range of around $20,000 yearly is a common range for Pell grant qualification. But the award is based on a specific picture of the finances of each student who applies and what is known as the Estimated Family Contribution (EFC).

Students or families making up to $50,000 annually may be eligible for the grant. Award amounts are usually in the neighborhood of $5000 but may be less or slightly more. The information on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is used determine eligibility. Submit the application to start the funding process!

[contentblock id=1]

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)

The FSEOG grant is also based on financial need or hardship. It is designed to assist students that are having trouble paying for college. It is fairly similar to the Pell grant except that the schools to which students are applying play a more instrumental role in deciding how much aid a student gets. In fact they rather than the government have the final say as to the exact amount awarded. The grant is usually reserved for the “most needy” students financially who are given highest priority as award allocations. The FAFSA form is also the application for this grant.

The Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG)

The ACG uses academic performance as a primary criterion for deciding who gets the grant. It is a grant for good students unlike the two mentioned above. However it is still a need based grant in that the student must be either receiving or eligible for a Pell grant in order to qualify for it. The combination of good grades and financial need must be present in order to receive the ACG. The FAFSA information just as in the above cases is used to determine grant eligibility.

Grants from State Governments

Governments in the states where students are residing or attending post secondary institutions also provide need based grants and scholarships. The eligibility requirements for these grants vary by state. The best way to find out about grants in your particular state is to talk to financial aid advisors at your school of choice or contact your local department of education. But in general these grants use income criteria combined with other specifics to determine whether a student qualifies.


Scholarships from a wide variety of private foundations and organizations are available to help students pay for college. Again, if the student could not demonstrate need, they would probably not be either applying for or be awarded the scholarship, so in a sense all scholarships can be considered need based. But some focus more on the income status of a student while others look more at academic performance, ethnicity, or other criteria. Need based scholarships are awarded by a huge array of different organizations ranging from the schools themselves to which a student is applying to private grant foundations and corporations.

Finding Need Based Scholarships

There are a very large number of need based scholarships offered. Some have more specific criteria than others, but they all attempt to ease the burden of affording college and to make it easier for intelligent or economically/demographically disadvantaged students to get much needed educational opportunities.

The best way to find these need based scholarships is through either online searches (on terms such as “need based scholarships”) or to talk to financial aid advisors at colleges. Online searches will bring up tons of results which the scholarship seeker can then compile into a large list on paper. It doesn’t usually cost anything to apply for need based grants so the best approach is to apply to as many of them as possible (and for which the student is eligible).

Need based grants for school are available for those who take the time to apply and meet certain eligibility criteria. It is only a matter of performing your “due diligence” in finding applying for them.