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Free Money: The College Education Grant

With today’s high costs of attending college, many students are finding it difficult to finance their own education. Even getting a part-time job often doesn’t cut it and many students can’t balance a full-time job and academic demands. For individuals who need monetary help to attend college, there is Federal aid that comes in two forms: self-help and gift. The first allows you to borrow money through loans or work for the money through the work-study program. The latter is just what the name implies: a gift. And gifts don’t have to be repaid.

Fortunately, the US Federal government is not the only organization that realizes the need for educated citizens and the difficulties some citizens have in getting educated. Many other organizations offer aid as well. This aid comes in the form of a college education grant.
The great thing about a college education grant, like the majority of grants and unlike student loans, is that you don’t have to return the money. A college education grant is based mainly on need (though there are some that are merit-based as well), and it is highly competitive. These grants won’t necessarily cover all costs of an education, but they can be a big help. Grants of this nature can be donated by the federal or state government, non-profit organizations, academic institutions, research institutions, funding institutions, corporations, or private individuals.

The college-bound should start researching college education grant opportunities early, say junior year of high school, and also start saving up money for the costs that the grant will not cover, such as textbooks. A FAFSA (Free Application for Student Aid) form should be filled out by anyone who wishes to attend post-secondary education because the information on this form is forwarded by the department of education to the state assistance agency in the state where a student applies. Often, a student can be eligible for more than one grant and some scholarships. Many grants are donated on a first-come first-served basis, so it’s best to get applications in early.

Two of the most popular and well-known need-based grants are the Federal Pell grant and the Federal Educational Supplemental Opportunity grant.

* The first is a college education grant often used as a starting point on top of which students add other grants or scholarships. This grant is for undergraduate students only, and is often further limited to students who do not already have a bachelor’s degree (though there are some exceptions), and money given ranges from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. The donation of the grant is based on need, cost of attendance and whether a candidate is a full-time or part-time student.

* The second college education grant involves money given to students who are especially in need. Both the Federal Pell grant and this grant can be given to the same student, though the money donated through this grant is reduced if a student is receiving other types of aid.

There are a variety of other types of grants donated by a variety of organizations which come with more restrictions than the above mentioned grants. Conditional grants, for example, may entail a student undertaking a particular course of study or maintaining a particular grade point average to be eligible. Some grants given by universities or local organizations have residency needs as well.

To find out specific information about specific college education grants, there are a number of sources to which an aspiring university student may turn. A local library or a high school counselor’s office is an excellent place to start. On the web, an internet search with the words “college” and “grants” could be useful, while there are some tried and true sites such as finaid.org, collegeanswer.com, and the Michigan State Library website that are excellent sources for college education grant information.

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