Education Grants That Alleviate the Burden of Student Debt

Education is perhaps the most expensive asset anyone can have. While there is no denying the importance of a degree, achieving it is very hard for most of the population. That makes educational grants a ray of hope for talented students who can't afford to pursue their academic goals.

Unlike loans, students aren't required to pay off the granted amount for learning purposes. Therefore, students must get the maximum benefit from this opportunity instead of succumbing to a life burdened by debt.

To help in finding the best grant for your education, here are some of the leading educational grants currently available.

Pell Grant

A grant is a monetary award from the U.S. government. Repayments aren't required as long as the student beneficiary meets the program requirements and remains registered in the college during the grant period.

The Pell Grant is awarded to students who can prove that they need the requisite level of financial assistance.

Students who want to apply for the federal Pell Grant are required to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). While the award amount may vary from year to year, it was $6,195 for the 2019 to 2020 school year.

Criteria

The FAFSA process determines the candidate's Expected Family Contribution (EFC), verified by the full disclosure of the applicant's household finances used to consider grant eligibility. The maximum eligibility for EFC is 5576.

The amount awarded will depend on:

  • Applicant's EFC assessment;
  • Whether the student attends the university or college on a half-time or full-time basis, and;
  • The duration of the student's academic year.

How to Apply

Students that want to apply for the Pell Grant must:

  • Fill out and submit the FAFSA for the Pell Grant. A PDF download is available on the website, which can be submitted through the mail or online.
  • Get a Student Aid Report (SAR), either by mail or electronically, within two weeks. The SAR will include the applicant's EFC and details on any federal student support plans for which the student has been considered eligible.

Pell Grant cash is paid directly to the applicant's university or college two to four weeks before the beginning of the semester. Any outstanding funds not utilized for tuition fees will then be paid to the student by the institute's financial assistance department.

National SMART Grant

The National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent (SMART) Grant is offered to undergraduate seniors and juniors who already meet the criteria for the Pell Grant.

However, it's projected that only 40 percent of the applicants eligible for the Pell Grant are suitable for the National SMART Grant. The reason for this discrepancy is straightforward.

The National SMART Grant has stringent educational prerequisites. This sternness has to do with the grant's intent as it aims to overcome the recent, very visible drop in American student's aptitude for math and science.

National SMART Grant's monetary value is up to $4,000 for the third and fourth year of programs. In some cases, the grant can also be availed for a five-year study plan.

Criteria

To be eligible for the National SMART Grant, students must pursue a degree in any of the following majors:

  • Mathematics;
  • Computer Science;
  • Technology;
  • Physical Sciences;
  • Engineering;
  • Non-Major Single Liberal Arts Program;
  • Life Sciences, and;
  • Foreign Languages.

Furthermore, the applicant's GPA can't be under 3.0. The minimum GPA requirement is re-validated after each semester before the distribution of funds. The grant amount is awarded in addition to the Pell Grant endowment.

How to Apply

Fill out the FAFSA form and send it back either by mail or online. Students are evaluated for the grant depending on the degree mentioned on their FAFSA form.

Academic Competitiveness Grant

The Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG) is given to applicants as an incentive for finishing difficult classes in high school.

The ACG can be used towards education costs for the first two years of a student's undergraduate program. In particular, the grant can award up to $750 for first-year students and $1,300 for second-year students.

"Challenging classes" can denote different things across the U.S., so it'd be a good idea to verify what it means for you. Visit the U.S. Department of Education and ACG websites to figure out what "Rigorous Secondary School Programs of Study" implies in Ashburn.

It is also imperative to qualify for the Pell Grant to get the ACG, which means you'll have to demonstrate financial dependency.

Criteria

The following are some of the additional requirements to be eligible for the ACG:

  • Eligible non-citizen or U.S. citizen;
  • Currently registered in a qualified degree program;
  • Enrolled as either a first-year or second-year student in an undergrad program, and;
  • Meets the GPA requirement of 3.0 or higher (second-year candidates only).

How to Apply

First, students must fill out and submit a FAFSA form to showcase their financial needs.

Next, they receive a SAR that outlines their perceived financial requirement and the amount they'll get via the Pell Grant. The SAR consists of a few questions. The applicant's answers to those questions will determine their entitlement to the ACG.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant

The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) is governed by the financial aid department at every contributing institute. So, before you apply, make sure your institute offers it.

You can get between $100 and $4,000 annually. This is based on:

  • Your financial need at the time of application
  • The other aid programs you are a part of, and;
  • The availability of funds at your institute.

Each associated school receives a specific amount of FSEOG endowments every year from the U.S. Department of Education's office.

Criteria

The student must be enrolled as an undergrad at a participating institution and mustn't have any previous bachelor's degree. Additionally, the student must fill out the FAFSA form on a yearly basis. Their respective institute will award the funds for FSEOG every year depending on their entitlement and other factors.

If the applicant qualifies for the grant, the school will credit their financial account, pay them directly, or integrate these methods.

Your school must disburse the funds as a minimum once per tenure, be it semester, trimester, or quarter. Schools that don't follow semesters or such durations need to disburse cash at least twice per academic year.

How to Apply

To apply for the FSEOG, students are required to fill and submit the FAFSA form. This helps their school determine the amount of financial assistance they need.

The financial aid department will then award FSEOG funds to the students in dire need of financial support. It doesn't have to be paid back, except in individual circumstances.