Financial aid for college is available in the form of government grants, private scholarships, student loans, etc. To avail any kind of financial assistance you will have to meet the eligibility criteria and apply for individual programs.
There are several avenues for students who are looking for financial assistance for their education. One of the best options is applying for government grants as you do not have to repay the financial aid you get in the form of a grant. The government recently enacted the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 which made sweeping reforms in the student loans sector. The Department of Education will directly provide financial assistance to eligible students looking for further education.
Several non-profit organizations (NPO) also run scholarship programs that help students from targeted sector. For a better understanding if a NPO is working towards empowering single mothers they might offer scholarships for single mothers or their children. Several corporate houses also offer financial aid to college students. Religious organizations and ethnic groups also run programs that motivate students to get higher education by paying for college tuition.
Government Grants for Education
The US government is one of the largest provider of financial aid to college students. The government has several grants geared to help the marginalized population. Government grants which provide financial aid for community college and other participating institutes are need based and have strict eligibility criteria. One of the basic requirement is filling the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. Some of the government grant programs are
- Pell Grant: This grant is for undergraduate programs and is given to students from low-income families. The Pell Grant amount is calculated taking into consideration the expected family contribution (EFC) of the student. Maximum financial award under this grant for the year 2010-11 was USD 5,500. Go through the eligibility criteria before applying.
- SMART Grant: This is known as a continuing education grant because it is awarded for the third and fourth year of undergraduate study. Students get up to USD 4,000 each year under this grant and have to maintain a grade point average (GPA) of 3.0. Student doing a five-year program are also eligible for compensation for their fifth year of study.
- ACG Grant: The Academic Competitiveness Grant is given to the recipient of the Pell grant. A student can get up to USD 750 for the first year and USD 1,300 for the second year of study. Students have to be enrolled in a full-time course or at least half time to be eligible for this grant.
The administration has made some great reforms to the way student loans were being handled and has also decided to directly provide aid to needy students. The US Department of Education provides aid to freshmen and seniors at participating schools. Some of the programs they run are
- Stafford Loans: These are direct subsidized loans and are given to eligible students who are enrolled full-time or at least half time for an education program. Filling up the FAFSA form is one of the basic criteria as the loan amount will be calculated according to the information provided in the form. Community college students can receive financial aid which can go over USD 100,000 under this loan program.
- Perkins Loan: These loans are given to student from very low-income families and have the lowest interest rates and comfortable repayment options. Students in an undergraduate program can avail up to USD 4,000 per year and graduate students can avail up to USD 6,000 per year. The government also forgives the Perkins loan if you teach in schools that serve students from low-income families or choose a career in public service.
Non profit organizations (NPOs) provide aid to adults as well as teenagers if you meet their requirements. Different NPOs support causes that support a target audience and help the marginalized population. They help single parents get back to college so they can better provide for the families. Some NPOs work towards empowering students from minorities get a higher education to secure gainful employment. Others help students with disabilities by paying for their education.
Another resource you could tap regarding financial aid are organizations like the Lions Club, Rotary Club, American Legion, etc. Research is very important when it comes to seeking financial assistance, and also remember to apply for aid which you have the best chance to be eligible for.