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Your Financial Aid Guide to Grants-Navigating Your Way to Free Money

Aug 18, 2007
So what are grants, and how do you get them? Grants fall into a very unusual "free money" category. While familiar to most, federal grants are awarded based solely on financial need but there are several colleges and universities that offer their own student grants as well. For the purposes of this article, we will only discuss the federal grants available. You should, however, research availability of other grants that you may qualify for from other sources.

There are two types of federal student aid grants. Again, unlike loans, grants do not have to be repaid however they are awarded based solely on financial need and the amount you receive is based on a combination of your financial need, the cost(s) for you to attend school and your enrollment status (full-time, part-time).

The two types of federal grants available are the Federal Pell Grant and the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG).

Pell Grants are at the core of federal funding and, in the event you are eligible, you are awarded the full amount for which you qualify. Pell Grant awards are not affected (reduced) by other amounts of financial aid you may be eligible for. Except in certain cases for students pursuing a post-graduate teacher certification, Pell Grants are federal grants generally reserved for undergraduate students (those who have not earned a bachelor's or graduate degree). Pell Grant award amounts change each year but for the 2007 school year awards range from $400 to $4,050.

Pell Grant award amounts depend on:

-Estimated Family Contribution (EFC)
-Cost of Attendance
-Full-time/Part-time Student Status

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG) are federal grants reserved for those with exceptional financial need. Those who have received Pell Grants receive priority for FSEOG awards. There are a couple notable differences between the Pell Grant and FSEOG awards however. Unlike Pell Grants, the amount of your FSEOG award IS affected by other financial aid assistance you receive. Receiving other forms of financial aid can reduce your FSEOG award. Not all schools participate in the FSEOG program and, more importantly, schools that participate are awarded a "pool" of FSEOG funding each year. When all of that money has been disbursed, they will not (can not) issue any more FSEOG awards. It is imperative that you apply early for this type of grant. FSEOG awards amounts range from $100 to $4000 per year.

FSEOG award amounts depend on:

-Your financial need
-When you apply
-Your schools participation
-The FSEOG funds available at your school

Pursuing your continuing education is a big step in your life. Congratulations to you because if you're reading this article you've already taken that all-important first step. Don't let the cost of education be your final determining factor in pursuing it or not. It will always pay off in the long run. At the end of the day, there are options out there to help you pay for your education. With a little research you can find money either through the federal government or from private financial resources. Take some time...a little bit of effort on your part can uncover resources that make your time well spent.
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