If you're eligible, federal grants are a great way to fund your college education because they do not need to be repaid. To find out if you're eligible to receive a federal grant, complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). If you're awarded a grant, your school's financial aid office will guide you through the rest of the process. Depending on your school's policy, you may be issued a check for the grant amount, or the funds may be applied directly to your tuition expenses.
One of the most commonly awarded forms of financial aid, Pell Grants provide funds for undergraduate students who have not yet earned a degree. Under certain conditions, post-bacc students in professional education programs are also eligible for Pell Grants. Pell Grants are available to students at any one of 5,400 qualifying schools.
Pell Grants are awarded to students who demonstrate significant financial need. The amount of each Pell Grant depends upon financial need, total cost of enrollment, and full-time vs. part-time status. Financial need is calculated based on Expected Family Contribution (EFC), a sum that is determined based on students' and parents' available assets reported in the FAFSA (Free Application for Student Aid). The maximum Pell Grant amount varies from year to year, and is $5,350 annually for July 1, 2009 through June 30, 2010.
The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) is awarded to undergraduate students based on financial need, as determined by the FAFSA. Students who qualify for a Pell Grant and have a very low Expected Family Contribution (EFC) are eligible for an FSEOG. FSEOGs provide anywhere from $100 to $4,000 annually, depending on educational costs and financial need.
Each school's financial aid office plays a role in deciding which students receive FSEOGs, and each school itself must fund 25% of all of its FSEOGs.
The Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG) is a supplemental monetary award bestowed upon Pell Grant recipients who are in their first or second year of undergraduate study. The first-year grant is $750 and the second-year grant is $1,300; however, this amount may be reduced if there are not enough ACG funds to cover all qualifying students.
First-year ACG recipients must be in their first undergraduate program, and second-year ACG recipients must maintain a 3.0 GPA. To find out if you qualify for the Academic Competitiveness Grant, complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
The National SMART Grant is available to third- and fourth-year undergraduates majoring in science, technology, mathematics, engineering, or foreign languages that are in demand for national security.
SMART Grant recipients must qualify for a Pell Grant, maintain a 3.0 GPA, and must be enrolled in courses related to their major during the year the grant is awarded. A complete list of qualifying majors is available on the Department of Education website.
Established by an act of Congress in 2007, the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant (TEACH Grant) provides grants to future teachers. To qualify for this grant, students must plan to teach underprivileged or low-income students in a high-demand subject area. TEACH Grant recipients also must satisfy the program's academic standards, which may vary but typically require a 3.25 GPA. To be considered for a TEACH Grant, students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA); however, unlike other federal grant programs, TEACH Grant recipients do not need to demonstrate financial aid.
Grant recipients may teach primary or secondary school, at a private or public educational institution. A list of qualifying schools serving low-income students can be found in the Department of Education's Annual Directory of Designated Low-Income Schools for Teacher Cancellation Benefits. Qualifying high-demand subjects include mathematics, science, foreign languages, bilingual education, and other fields listed in the Department of Education's Annual Teacher Shortage Area Nationwide Listing.
TEACH Grants provide as much as $4,000 annually to cover educational expenses. A minimum of four years of service is required for each TEACH Grant received. Other requirements are listed in the TEACH Grant Agreement to Serve.
If a grant recipient fails to fulfill his or her obligation, the full amount of all TEACH Grants received is converted to an unsubsidized Stafford loan and must be repaid in full.