The national student loan debt has reached a record $1.6 trillion in the U.S. with the average graduate owing $32,731.1 Student debt follows people long after graduation, making it difficult to pay off on top of living expenses, savings, and interest fees. This is why prospective students should look into grant programs. These sums of money are given to students and don’t have to be paid back. You can search online to find available grants.
It’s important to do your research because criteria, application deadlines, and value can differ between grant programs. Search online to find grants that could offer free money towards your education.
Here are some grants to check out.
The Pell Grant
Those wanting to pursue post-secondary should look into the Federal Pell Grant. You can earn a maximum of $6,345 for the year, but keep in mind this number can change annually.2 The value of the grant will depend on a number of factors such as:
- Your expected family contribution;
- The cost of attendance in a specific school program;
- Whether you are a part-time or full-time student, or;
- Your plans to attend school for a full academic year or less.
This money is available to undergraduate students who display financial need and do not already carry a degree. The money can be applied to fund your school costs, paid to you directly, or a combination of these two methods.
To apply, search online for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. You must fill out the FAFSA form every year you attend school to remain eligible.
New students attending Western Governors University could earn up to $4,000 towards their education.3 This grant was created for those dealing with unforeseen financial struggles in 2021 that make it difficult to continue their studies. It will be awarded students depending on the student’s academic record, financial need, readiness for online study at WGU, and other considerations.
This grant will be broken into smaller payments to help you afford tuition. Students receive $2,500 in the first term and $750 for up to two additional terms. Along with this grant, the school has over 20 available scholarships. Find out what the deadline for applications is by searching online.
Academic Competitiveness and National SMART Grants
The Academic Competitiveness and National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent (SMART) grants became available to aid students in 2006. It’s aimed at students looking to pursue majors in science, mathematics, global economy, technology, engineering, and crucial foreign languages.
Students are eligible for the Academic Competitiveness grants in their first and second years. Third- and fourth-year students are eligible for the SMART grants. In order to qualify, applicants must also qualify for the Pell Grants program. They require a minimum GPA of 3.0 and be pursuing a rigorous secondary school program of study. The combined total received along with the Pell Grant must not exceed the student’s tuition costs.
You can receive up to $750 in the first year of undergrad and up to $1,300 for the second year.4 Students may receive less than the maximum amount depending on their financial status.
To find out whether your area of study qualifies for the Academic Competitiveness and National SMART grants, start an online search.
Search Online for More Education Grants
Grants can make education more affordable for students facing financial burdens. Even a small amount could make a positive difference in painting your tuition or help you require a lesser student loan.
Grants like the Pell Grant, Academic Competitiveness, and National SMART Grants are federally funded. Other grants, such as the Resiliency Grant, are offered directly from academic institutions. You could also find grants offered from private or nonprofit organizations.
As long as you remain eligible for the grant, you will never have to pay it back. According to the government’s federal student aid website, some instances where you may be required to pay back a grant are if:
- You withdrew from a program for which the grant was given to you;
- Your enrollment status changed, or;
- You received outside scholarships or grants that reduced your need for federal student aid5
Do your research by searching online and applying for any grants you’re eligible for. It could help you make it through school financially stable and help you avoid getting student debt.