Among the biggest economical issues constantly discussed in the United States is the price of education. For the average American, there’s a significant percentage of their wealth that goes towards higher education. Thankfully, there’s a variety of federal grants that aim to tackle the issue, making education more accessible to people.
As a result, the Department of Education created 4 different grants. These grants are aimed at students attending four-year colleges or universities, community colleges, and career schools. But, each grant comes with its own set of benefits and qualification criteria.
- Pell grant: Aimed at students who struggle financially to afford higher education.
- Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG): a grant supervised directly by the financial aid office, and only available in certain participating schools.
- Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants: Provides financial assistance to undergraduate students whose parents were part of the US armed forces and died as a result of military service performed in Iraq or Afghanistan after the events of 9/11.
- Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant: A grant designed for undergraduate students who are willing to put the time and effort into teaching elementary and secondary school students.
Federal student grants are some of the most common forms of assistance programs as they focus on providing students with financial aid. Basically, the idea is that these grants, unlike student loans, don’t have to be paid back.
The most popular grant program is the Pell student grant. This grant’s primary focus is on undergraduate students, especially, students who can prove an exceptional need for financial aid to pursue their academic goals will be eligible for the grant. The Pell grant can grant up to $6,895 per academic year.
How Do I Apply For The Pell Grant?
Firstly, applicants must fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form. Then, applicants must confirm all the information they provided on the student aid report. In the end, 2 factors will be considered while reviewing your application: your Expected Family Contribution (EFC), and Cost Of Attendance (COA).
EFC is calculated according to an equation set by the federal government. This equation determines your family’s taxed and untaxed income, assets, and benefits. Also, the number of members in your family, as well as the number of members in your family who are going to college in the same year will be considered
However, Your COA will include the following criteria:
- tuition and fees;
- the cost of room and board (or living expenses for students who do not contract with the school for room and board);
- the cost of books, supplies, transportation, loan fees, and miscellaneous expenses (including a reasonable amount for the documented cost of a personal computer);
- an allowance for child care or other dependent care;
- costs related to a disability; and/or
- reasonable costs for eligible study-abroad programs.
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)
Another popular grant is FSEOG. This is a federal grant aimed at helping students struggling financially with their higher educational journey. This grant, unlike the Pell grant, only provides financial assistance to students in schools that participate in the program.
How It Works
Much like all other grants, students first need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form. The financial aid office will then determine how much financial assistance the student requires.
A student can receive anywhere between $100 and $4,000 depending on their need. As the fund amount is limited for every school, priority is given to students who have the greatest need for the grant.
Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants
The Iraq and Afghanistan grant is for kids of deceased US troops who died in Iraq or Afghanistan. The grant works like all others, it provides financial assistance to help with educational fees. The grant award is equal to the award of the Pell grant, $6,435 (subject to change).
To qualify for the grant, you must meet the same requirements the Pell grant requires. However, you must not be eligible for the Pell grant. Also, this grant is only for those whose parents or guardians died in the line of duty. Applicants must have been 24 years old or younger when their guardian passed.
Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant
This grant is a special one. TEACH awards up to $4,000 in educational fee assistance. But, TEACH is only awarded to those willing to complete a teaching service. Moreover, you must be an undergraduate, post baccalaureate, or graduate student enrolled in a school that is part of the TEACH program.
Students awarded benefits through TEACH must be educated in elementary or secondary schools for 4 years. Those 4 years must be within the years you’ll spend to graduate from your school.
The Federal Work-study Program Is A Fantastic Alternative
There are plenty of federal grant programs that students can apply for, however, some students might not be able to qualify or might need extra income for other expenses. As a result, the federal work-study program enables students to make extra money while they’re studying, keeping their financial situations stable while giving them a shot at gaining extra work experience.
Frequently asked questions
What kind of jobs can I get?
Usually, the program will focus on providing you with jobs that coincide with your field of studies. In addition, the program focuses on developing civic education.
Can I work full-time?
No, you can only work the number of hours decided by the federal government. All work will be part-time.
Who can apply for these jobs?
The program focuses on helping students with their finances. Only undergraduate and graduate students and professional students are eligible for this program.
Do I have to leave my campus for work?
That depends. So, if you’re working on campus, you’ll almost certainly work for your school. But, some schools have agreements with some companies, under the work-study program, to provide students with more job opportunities.
How much do I get paid?
For starters, you’ll get at least the federal minimum wage. In addition, you might get paid extra for certain jobs in higher demand and/or require higher technical skills. Other deciding factors will rely mostly on your financial needs, as well as the school’s budget for the program.
How do I get paid?
That depends. If you’re an undergraduate student, you’ll get paid an hourly wage. But, if you’re a graduate student, you might get paid hourly or a salary. Generally, the school, under the federal work-study program, must pay you once a month. You can get your payment directly, or use the funds towards your education fees.
First, make sure you apply as soon as you can for any grant you apply for or other financial assistance programs. There’s a wide variety of programs that are specially designed to help students across the financial and qualification spectrum.
Understandably, many people see applying for college as a very expensive decision. As a result, the federal government created several programs that will help you finance your education and help you cut down on due taxes.
There are plenty of tax break opportunities to help students through education. Students may claim tax breaks on books, tuition fees, supplies, and equipment required for education.
There are 2 prime examples of tax credit programs that you should look into:
American Opportunity Credit allows students to claim up to $2,500 in tax credit every year for the first 4 years of school.
Lifetime Learning Credit allows students to claim up to $2,000 for any year they spend in education, regardless of age or stage.
Yes, college is expensive. Yes, student debt is a huge issue. Luckily, there are many federal and non-federal programs out there to help you out. Take your time to research all your options. And keep in mind that having a high GPA will put you higher on the priority list for federal educational grants.
Here’s a quick rundown of everything we discussed above:
Need-based grants can help you out with tuition fees and any other fees that are related to your education. You need to be a US citizen or an eligible immigrant. In addition, You need to qualify as a person in need of financial assistance. Finally, you need to make sure you comply with the terms stated on your grant agreement, to avoid being potentially in debt to the government.
Furthermore, The federal work-study program will let you work part-time while studying. Hence, it’s a great way to make sure you make money while studying while accumulating professional experience at the same time.
In conclusion, don’t give up on college just because it’s expensive, and research your options before heading to a private bank for a student loan that you might have to spend the next decade or two paying back.