Apply For College Grants – Part 1

In order to apply for college grants, then you need to start by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.  This form is commonly referred to as the FAFSA form.

When you receive your FAFSA form results, it will tell you if you’ve been awarded any college grants.  The earlier you fill out this form, the better your chances are at receiving financial aid.  To learn how to fill out your FAFSA form, click here.

Grants vs. Scholarships – What’s the Difference?

A lot of students have a hard time understanding the difference between how to apply for college grants and scholarships.  Both grants and scholarships are funds that are given to students to be used to pay for college and the funds do not have to be paid back.

The difference between the two is that scholarships typically come from private resources or the college itself and have a certain condition attached to them.  For example, you might have to achieve a certain grade point average (GPA) or intend to major in a specific field, like Engineering or Accounting.

Grants are usually need-based and can only be obtained by filling out the FAFSA form.  This means that these funds are often given to students who are less likely to be able to afford college, based on the information they provided in their FAFSA form.  Grants can come from any source, including the college itself, but most student grants are government funded.  The government pays billions of dollars each year to help high school students pay for college.  Student grants are usually paid directly to the college.

Common Student Grants

Below are some common college grants that are commonly awarded to high school students.

Federal Pell Grants

The Federal Pell Grant program is the largest student aid program.  Studies show that approximately 3.7 million undergraduate student receive Pell Grants each year.  For a lot of students, this grant is the majority of their total financial aid package.  Pell grants are only awarded to undergraduate student who do not have a bachelor’s or professional degree.

The award amount given to each student varies, and depends on the following factors:

1.  Student’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC) – The amount of money that your FAFSA form results have indicated that your parents should be able to pay for your college education.

2. The Cost of Attendance (COA) – The amount of money that it costs to go to that particular school or university (i.e. tuition and fees, books and supplies, housing, etc.)

3. Enrollment Status – Whether or not a student is enrolled on a Part-time or Full-time basis and whether or not the student attends college for a full academic year or less.

4. Federal Government Funding – How much funding the Pell Grant Program receives from the Federal Government.

Federal Academic Competitiveness Grants (ACG)

The Academic Competitiveness grant was first launched in the 2006-07 school year for first and second year undergraduate students.  This grant supplements the Pell Grant and provides up to $750 for the first year of undergraduate study and up to $1,300 for the second year of undergraduate study.

In order to qualify for this college grant, you must meet the following requirements:

1. U.S. Citizen

2. Federal Pell Grant Recipient

3. First or Second Year Undergraduate Student at a 2-year or 4-year degree-granting institution

4. Have successfully completed a rigorous high school program.  These programs include:

a. State Scholars Initiative Requirements (*4 years of English, 3 year of Math, 3 year of Lab Science, 3.5 Years of Social Students, and 2 years of a Foreign Language)

b. Program similar to State Scholars Initiative Requirements

c. Minimum of 2 Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) courses in high school and a passing score on the exams for those classes.  Students must score a 3 or higher on AP exams and 4 or higher on IB exams.

To learn more about other types of common student grants, refer to Part 2 of this post…

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Lauren Anderson is a certified school counselor who's passionate about helping students all over the world successfully transition from high school to college! After spending 6 years as a business professional, she obtained her Master’s degree in School Counseling and now spends her spare time helping students.

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