Five Types of Federal Grants

The bulk of financial assistance for educational pursuits come from the government in the form of either state provided assistance or federal grants. There are several types of educational financial aid that the federal government provides and the eligibility requirements differ slightly depending on the focus and specific purpose of the educational assistance. When applying for these grants, the first step is to fill out the FAFSA or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, this is regardless of whether you think you are eligible for federal assistance or not. There are several types of federal grants that you can avail of and the procedure is actually very simple.

When filling out the FAFSA, you will need to include information such as the size of your household, income and assets which you can get from your federal income tax return, social security and the number of family members enrolled in college, among others. The form is available in various universities and educational institutions that participate in the Federal Title IV program, in public libraries and online. Note that the best time to file the FAFSA is between January 1st and before the beginning of the month of March. The information garnered from FAFSA will allow the federal government to provide you with a Student Aid Report or SAR which will be mailed back to you. The SAR contains one of the most important parameters in determining your eligibility for funding – the Expected Family Contribution or EFC. This figure, the EFC, will be subtracted from the average cost of attendance or COA of the school where you will be taking your education. The resulting difference defines your financial need and whether you are eligible for a federal grant.

Among the more often availed of federal grants is the Federal Pell Grant. The Federal Pell Grant is made available to highly impoverished students where eligibility parameters include, aside from the COA and EFC, type of student whether part or full time, whether you intend to enroll for a full academic year or not. The FSEOG or Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant is financial aid provided for undergraduates that, under the Pell grant, have the lowest EFCs.

Other types of federal grants that include not only financial need but also academic or merit based performances are the ACG or Academic Competitiveness Grants, the National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent or SMART Grants and the TEACH Grant or Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant. The ACG applies to undergraduates in the first and second year while the SMART grants are applicable to third, fourth and fifth year undergraduates taking up mathematics, computer science, physical and life sciences, technology courses, engineering, critical foreign language courses and some liberal arts programs. TEACH Grants are awarded to qualified students who have intentions of teaching in elementary and secondary schools, whether public or private, in low-income communities. You may inquire at the financial aid offices in your respective schools for additional information.