Federal Government scholarships and grants exist in a huge way today in regards to student financial aid. The Federal Government is the single largest funding body for postsecondary students and their families. Annually, federal grant programs pay over $150 billion in aid to over 14 million students. Grants and scholarships, unlike loans do not need to be paid back to a lending facility and are essentially free money.
There are currently four primary federal grants; two additional grants, the National SMART Grant and Academic Competitiveness Grant were recently defunded and eliminated. A student just by filling out a FAFSA determines a student’s eligibility for these remaining federal grants which must be reapplied for annually and if a change of university occurs. There are several other more obscure federal grants for which students may apply. Filling out a FAFSA determines a student’s eligibility for these remaining federal grants which must be reapplied for annually and if a change of university occurs.
The most common and widely known federal grant is the Pell Grant. Pell Grants are foundational student aid, meaning that aid from other sources may be added onto the amount you receive. The maximum allowable Pell Grant amount is $5,550 per year. However, the amount of money received depends on several variables, including personal financial need, school attendance costs, and your student status as part- or full-time. The amount received will be disclosed in a student’s financial aid packet and is disbursed on a given date for each term.
Students who had a parent or guardian that was a member of the Armed Forces and died as a result of service after the September 11, 2001 attacks may be eligible for the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant if they were enrolled part-time or more in college when the death occurred. They must also be under 24 years old and ineligible for a Pell Grant. The maximum allowable amount for this grant is also $5,550 but not to exceed the cost of college for that year.
The federal Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant gives up to $4,000 per year to students planning to teach in a public or private elementary or secondary school. This grant serves the dual purpose of helping future teachers afford their higher education and funneling qualified teachers into high need areas that serve low-income students and families. Accepting this grant serves as a contract that within eight years of graduating, you will teach a minimum of four years in one of these areas. Failure to complete these years of service means that the amount of the grant will automatically be transferred into a Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loan and interest will be charged from the date of the grant’s disbursement. This grant could be a huge help for the right students, but it is not something to accept without considerable thought, as the consequences for default can be highly inconvenient and costly.
The final choice of the top four federal government scholarships grants financial aid is the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) which is for undergraduate students who demonstrate extreme financial need. The Pell Grant is the first grant for which students are considered. After that students with the most minimal expected family contributions (EFCs) will be first eligible for a FSEOG. FSEOG’s are disbursed in amounts between $100 and $4,000 a year, depending on several variables: when the grant is applied for, financial need, funding at the recipient’s intended school, and that institutions financial aid policies.
There is also a federal Healthcare Scholarship for Disadvantaged Students that offers money to economically challenged students who would like to pursue a career in the health or medical field. A difference between this federal government scholarship and the above grants is that students apply for this scholarship at their school of attendance, because participating schools manage the funds and choose the recipients. Therefore, monetary amounts and deadlines vary from school to school.
There are several other federally funded scholarships for which students may be eligible. The Federal Employer Education Assistance Fund (FEEA) Scholarship awards between $300 and $2000 scholarships to students who have a minimum of three years’ experience as a civilian federal employee. The Health Profession Scholarship is awarded to a member of a federal recognized American Indian or Alaskan Native tribe. A difference with this federal scholarship to that of others is that while it is a free government scholarship, there is a service requirement in which the money must be repaid with service in the student’s chosen health profession once the student has graduated.
Students interested in studying abroad may be eligible for the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship which awards up to $5000-$8000 for students studying critical need languages.
The Robert Byrd Honors Scholarships are funded at the top level through grants from the US Department of Ed. The Byrd Scholarships are awarded at the state level through their agencies. All US states in the union are participants in the program. It’s a merit based scholarship and not every student who applies will be given an award but with large numbers of yearly awards are on an applicant’s side. With a strong application a students chances of wining a Robert Byrd scholarship is pretty good compared to programs which only have one or two awards annually.
A final federal scholarship is the NIH Undergraduate Scholarship Program (UGSP) which benefits outstanding scholars with exceptional financial need who plan to pursue a research career at NIH in biomedical, behavioral or social science. Up to $20,000 per academic year may be offered for students willing to fulfil a service obligation.
As you can see, there is substantial federal government scholarships and grant money available to scholars who wish to spend the effort to pursue it. It is always advisable that students exhaust ALL sources of free grant and scholarship money, from federal, public and private areas before committing to a loan of any type. It should also be evident that the application processes for any free money should be begun very early, so as not to run out of time and forfeit possible funds.