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Grant Money For College Education: 4 Flavors of Government Grant

Dec 31, 2007
Grant money comes in more than one flavor for your college education. Below I explain the types of grant money and what that means for your college money search. Grants are free money for college, and never have to be repaid.

1. FSEOG
First the Federal Supplemental Equal Opportunity Grant. The FSEOG program awards grants to undergraduate students that have exceptional need. Students who qualify for this one come from very limited means. Meaning not much money.

Your max award from this program tops out at $4000. The actual amount will depend on your other financial aid, and any other money you have. Awards also depend on the FSEOG money your school has available, so check with the financial aid office.

To apply for this or other federal grants, you will fill out the FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid. More on this at the end.

2. Pell grant
The Pell grant program currently tops out at $4300 this school year and will rise to a max of $5400 in 2012. You have some eligibility requirements, standard things like progressing in school, attending an eligible institution, be a citizen, and a few others. You can receive a Pell grant even if your family has an income of up to about $45,000. Most of the students who get a Pell grant have a household or personal income under $20,000.

Remember, once you qualify under federal student aid (FSA) guidelines, you can apply on your income only, without your parents. I remember reaching that point at 22, and using Pell grants. Very helpful.

3. The Academic Competitiveness Grant
The ACG started in 2006 and only applies to first and second year undergraduate students. You can qualify for an award up to $750 for first year students and up to $1300 for second year students. This grant adds another qualification to get money for college. You must have completed a rigorous course of study in high school.

What is that? I looked at several. Basically, you have to do better than the basic graduation classes. You should look up your state at this link to find out your requirements:

http://www.ed.gov/admins/finaid/about/ac-smart/2007/state-programs-07.html

Every state has a description of a rigorous course of study, along with a few extras like DC, BIA, DOD schools, and Puerto Rico. And you have some options if you will finish high school soon. You can pass two advanced placement tests, or international baccalaureate tests. Some states offer a concurrent enrollment option, too, where passing core college classes while in high school will qualify you.

4. SMART
A new program called Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent (SMART) also offers federal government aid. This program aims directly at you engineers, scientists, and other highly technical fields. If you have a high tech major, you should apply. Be aware that this program complements the ACG above. The ACG applies to first and second year students, while SMART applies to third and fourth year students.

All of the above require that you fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (the FAFSA). If you use the online FAFSA, the form will update automatically to tell you that you can answer the ACG questions, which is how you apply for this program. If you used a paper FAFSA, your student aid report (SAR) will show you if you should answer the ACG questions or not.

And if you don't get enough in grants, try a Stafford or other student loan. They can help.
About the Author
Come over to Beat-Tuition.com to learn about the most forgotten source of grant money for college education, and download my free report on financial aid.
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