It can be very tough to come up with the funds on your own to pay for the big expenses that are accompanied by a college and university education. It can costs tens of thousands of dollars leaving the potential student with the need to receive funding to pay for these high education costs. Thankfully there are many different grants to explore when needed as they can be very helpful in getting the student through school.
What is a Grant?
A grant is essentially a sum of money given to any individuals, businesses or organizations to assist them in a needed area. The money does not need to be paid back and can be said to be a gift of money. There are many different variations of grants depending on who is receiving the grant as grants can fall under a wide variety of categories as seen below:
Small business grants: These grants are designed for entrepreneurs looking to start a business, or business owners looking to expand their small business.These grants are not offered federally, and the best place to look is within the state that offer grants for small businesses. Another great place to look for grants is the grant database grants.gov.
Organization grants: These grants are sums of money awarded to organizations who need funding to achieve their goals. Most of the time these grants are awarded to organizations who look to make a positive difference in the community. An example of an organization could be a blood donor clinic who needs more funds to expand and improve their services.
Financial assistance grants: These grants are awarded to a wide variety of groups that need financial assistance. These groups can include struggling financial adults and families, behavioural services, aboriginal groups etc. Many financial assistance grants provide funds and necessities to low income families as well.
School Grants: A school grant is essentially a sum of money given to a student to assist them in their educational costs such as tuition,text books, and room and board.Unlike student loans grants do not have to be paid back.It is essentially a gift of money allowing you to pursue your education.
The U.S. department of education offers a wide range of grants for students looking to attend college or university. Many of these grants are awarded to students who display a financial need. The funds are used for all expenses related to college or university education, such as tuition, textbooks, room and board etc.
Non Profit Grants: These grants are awarded to non profit organizations for a specific purpose. Some of these grants are focused on:
- a specific population: such as church groups in a specific location
- some non profit organizations: such as personal counselling groups
- specific types of support: such as funding for new equipment needed for research
Legit Sources for Grants
Fortunately, there are many places to look when seeking assistance for a grant. There are many websites devoted to giving people who have interest in grants all the details and information they will need to know about applying for grants etc. Below is a detailed explanation of where you can find information on these grants.
Universities or Colleges
These schools offer a wide variety of grants, similarly to scholarships. The schools usually have a set amount of grants that they award, so you should always apply at the school you are enrolled in. To do so it is best to contact the colleges you want to attend and speak to their administration or financial aid office and get as much information as you can about all the grants they offer and how and when to apply.
Federal / State Government
The United States federal government has many different grants available for students seeking financial assistance for school expenses or for general low income assistance.
For School Assistance, some of the main grants include a Pell Grant and a TEACH grant which are explained below.
A Pell Grant is a need based grant which grants low income students/families money to use to pursue college or university education. Pell grants are available to students who are striving toward their first bachelor’s or professional degree. It is important to note that Pell Grants are not available to graduate students. These grants can be used at over 5400 participating college or universities across the United States. The criteria used to determine the amount of the grant is based on several factors such as the students expected family contribution, the cost of the schooling, and whether or not the student is a full or part time student.The maximum an individual can receive for a Pell Grant for the 2015-2016 year is $5775. The amount each student receives varies based on the student’s personal situation.
Once you are awarded a Pell Grant you must maintain a good academic standing to be eligible to continue receiving the award each year. The academic good standing is different based on the school you are attending, as each school has criteria that may differ, however factors such as course completion, attendance, and most importantly, a good GPA are reviewed.
A TEACH grant is a lot different then all other financial grants. A TEACH grand stands for Teacher Education Assistance or College and Higher Education. This grant provides funds to students who want to become teachers in a high need field or a low income area. The high need fields include the subjects math, science, and second languages, and range from K to grade 12 low income schools.
In order to qualify for this grant you have to take specific classes to get the grant, and then do a job so the grant does not turn into a loan. If it does turn into a loan, repayment of the loan begins six months after the student has graduated. The grant awards up to $4000 to students who plan to become a teacher and begin the coursework needed to begin a teaching career.. The grades needed to be eligible for this grant vary by school but on average you must maintain a GPA of 3.25 or above for each payment period.
The best source to enrol for a TEACH grant is the college or university you will be enrolled in. Contact their financial aid or administration office and ask if they offer the grant, and which courses at the school would be eligible under the TEACH grant.
Low Income Assistance
The goverment offers low incomes assistance programs, both federal and state.
We give a list of these programs at the very end of this article.
Some of such programs are:
- SNAP program (food stamp)
- Section 8 Housing Vouchers
These are grants that are targeted towards businesses and organizations to provide funds for many start up businesses and organizations. Furthermore, the government also provides these funds to ensure established business’ and organizations can remain stable and functioning.
There are a variety of sources to discover to find business or organizational grants. One of the most well known sources includes the grants.gov website. Here, you can find a large database of business and organizational grants on the website.You will be able to narrow your search to your area and see what grants are available and can even apply right from the website.
Furthermore, many well established companies usually have programs that include awarding grants to help develop local businesses and organizations. Inquire to several large companies and ask about any grants that they may offer. In fact, most large companies have programs specifically for grants to help out the community.
How to Find a Legit Grant
Unfortunately there are many different scams in existence, and you must be careful not to fall victim to them. Many of these grant scams may initially sound legitimate and rewarding, however that is not the case. Below are some signs of a potential grant scam.
- they require any sort of payment for applying
- they make guarantees that you will win be awarded the grant if you pay a price to apply
- they request any sort of banking information such as credit card info etc.
- they state that they will handle the entire application process for you.
The best, legitimate grants are found through the federal government, a state government, colleges or universities and legitimate grant databases.
Government websites: There are a few government websites where you can apply and get the information needed to apply for a grant. They include:
- Grants.gov: this website is the best federal online database to find and apply for grants, however there is a process involved and later in the article we will show you how to apply for a grant on this website.
- ed.gov: This site is used to fill out the FAFSA form needed to receive Pell Grants as well as TEACH grants .
- cfda.gov this website is a great source to sort through all the federal grant programs. It has extensive lists of all available funding programs through all levels of government for non profit organizations as well as businesses.
- teach-ats.ed.gov: This website is used to apply for TEACH grants.
- ed.gov :This is an ideal website that has a general view of any grants or student aid a you may be interested in.
- org– this is the best non government grant database available which provides many sources for potential grants.
- hud.gov – This database provides information on any sort of housing and development programs for financially needy families and individuals .This website lists grants that can be applied for in a wide variety of housing needs such as the Housing Choice Voucher.
Guide to Applying for Grants
The application process for grants is different depending on the type of grant you are applying for. Keep in mind you will need to fit some specific criteria to even qualify for a grant. Just ‘needing money’ is NOT enough — you need to be DOING something or pursuing something in an area that the government / school / organization is investing in and offering money to promote that area.
How to Apply For a Small Business Grant
There is a good amount of information needed to register and apply for a small business grant through the grants.gov website. You will need some key information such as your business EIN and DUNS number. It can be a time consuming process however it can be well worth your time.
- The first thing that must be done is a well detailed business plan. Make sure it is very precise, with specific information included such as insurance policies, tax statements, and expense reports etc.
- Next your business needs a Employer Identification Number (EIN)This can be done by using the US Internal Revenue Service website and applying online. If the application is submitted online you can usually receive your EIN number on the same day
- Next it is time to apply for the business DUNS number. Visit the DUNS website and fill out the application, It can take 6-8 weeks to apply to receive your DUNS number in the mail.
- The next step involves the registration of your business through the Federal Central Contractor Registration website. You will need your EIN and DUNS numbers to register.
- Now you can finally register your business on gov website to apply for grants. When you apply, use specific information and ensure your application has a very formal, professional look to it.
Furthermore you can apply for small business grants through large companies and cooperations that provide grants for start up small businesses. Contact many large businesses and discover which grants they may offer to small businesses and the eligibly criteria needed to apply.
In addition, there is a grant resource database that can be found at sba.gov which is a U.S. small business administration program. Here you can find grants based on the industry and area your business is based in. The website features a loans and grant search tool which can help narrow your search and get in contact with the right people to apply for a grant. The purpose of this database is to help small businesses grow,and provides information on government grants that your business may be eligible for.
How To Apply for Non Profit Grants
Non profit grants can be offered through the government or well established companies. When applying for a grant through a large company or business, there is a set of specific criteria that must be met in order to be eligible for the grant. For example Bank of America offers grants to non profit organizations and they must meet the following criteria to be eligible:
- must be tax exempt under section 501(3)(c) of the internal revenue code and can not be identified as a private organization
- should meet Bank of America’s funding priorities of community development, education and workforce development and critical needs.
If you are interested in a grant for your non profit organization contact many large companies in your area and collect all the information needed to apply and receive a grant. Many large companies have set budgets they are willing to spend on financial assistance such as grants, so it is in your best interests to ask as many as possible. You will find that most of the companies require you to be tax exempt under section 510 (3)(c). This tax section means your organization is exempt from federal taxes and possibly state taxes. Also more importantly it means that the funds the company or business that donates the grant issues are tax deductible.
To apply for a government funded non profit grant the best source is the government grant database grants.gov.
Furthermore, a great non government source to apply for a non profit grant is through the foundation centre at foundationcenter.org.
How to Apply for School-Based Grants
Many legit grants are offered to STUDENTS either going back to school or who are currently enrolled in school. These grants are given out by institutions (colleges / universities / trade programs), the government, non-profits, or businesses.
How to Apply for a Pell Grant
The Pell grants are the biggest federal grant for students.
There is no application for a Pell Grant specifically, however once you fill out the FAFSA form you will be automatically considered for a Pell Grant.
You can apply for a Pell Grant three different ways:
- You can apply online with the Department of Education’s website at ed.gov
- You can apply by downloading and completing the PDF version which can be found at the above website
- You can apply by completing a paper version of the application which is mailed to you when call the Department of Education’s toll free number.
When applying, students need to show proof that they are enrolled in a certificate or degree program from their college or university. There are no age limits to be considered for a Pell Grant so if you are an older adult looking to go back to school you can definitely apply for a Pell Grant.
If you have any issues filling out or accessing the FAFSA form you can seek assistance with the college or university which you are enrolled and they will be able to assist you and even submit the form on your behalf. It is important to note that Pell Grants are not renewed automatically every year, as you need to complete the form every year to continue receiving the grant.
Tips For Filling out a FAFSA Application Correctly
Filling out the FAFSA form is a straightforward process however you will need the following information:
- Your social security number
- your parents’ social security number if you are a dependent student
- Your Federal tax information, and your parents tax information if you are a dependent student. Tax forms needed include:IRS 1040, 1040A, and 1040EZ.
- record of you and/or your parents untaxed income
- Detailed financial information such as balances of checking and savings accounts, as well as any investments such as stocks, mutual funds, or bonds etc.
If you want to go back to school and need Financial Aid, you MUST fill out the FAFSA — it’s the first step and gives you access to government federal grants, student loan aid, and even institutional and private grants which use the FAFSA application as a basis to determine your grant eligibility.
How To Apply for a TEACH Grant
In order to apply for a TEACH grant you must first be enrolled as an undergraduate at a school that participates in the TEACH Program. You can apply for TEACH grants online and through the college or university in which you are enrolled.
You must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) You can fill out the FAFSA a few different ways: online at FAFSA.gov which is the quickest method in applying,or download a PDF version and mail it. It is also a good idea to contact the college or university you are enrolled in to see if you can fill out the application through the school and sometimes they may even be able to submit it on your behalf.
After you fill out your FAFSA application you will then have to fill out a Expected Family Contribution (EFC) form. This is a resource used to see exactly how much money you will receive from your grant.
Once the above is completed you will need to sign a form called “Agreement to serve” on the TEACH grant website at teach-ats.ed.gov. Basically this agreement to serve is a contract that explains all the terms and conditions that must be abided to. If you do not abide to the funds in the TEACH grant it can result in the grant transforming into a loan that must be repaid.
How to Apply for Low Income Assistance Grants
If you are looking for grants for financial help — such as low income assistance, rental assistance, food stamps, or other help to LIVE, read the next section.
Grants for Financial Assistance / Low Income Assistance Programs
There are several grants available to those individuals seeking financial assistance due to low funds. This can include funding for single parents, families in need, families with special needs children, and rental assistance etc.
While these are technically not ‘grants’ but ‘low income assistance’ or ‘financial help’, these are basically money or services offered for FREE to people in need, which fits the definition of a grant. Just keep in mind these services are often government sponsored and / or often not actual cash but things like rent help, food stamps, etc.
Low Income Public Housing Program
This is a program that was created by the US department of Housing and Urban Development(HUD) which provides average, safe rental housing opportunities for low income families, the elderly as well as the disabled.
Unfortunately there is sometimes a lengthy waiting list depending on your location. And, reports are, it can be a long while — years even before you get your turn at it.
Nonetheless , it is a viable option for the low income, needy people. To be considered for this program families must spend 30% or more of their income on housing. There is a wide variety of information found at hud.gov. This website will guide you on how to apply for the program by helping you locate your local housing agency(HA). To apply you will need the names and birthdates of all the individuals living in the house, as well as employer information, wages, and balances of all bank accounts including investments.
Housing Choice Voucher Program(section 8)
This is another rental assistance program also run via the HUD. This program is available through the use of subsidies. It works by the individual in need searching for housing in the private marketing and only paying 40% of their income on rent, while the rest is paid by the federal government. There is known to be a long waiting list for this program with some waiting lists being over one year long. The waiting list is based on preferences, meaning you may be placed at a higher priority then another family based on your current living conditions and income etc.To be eligible, the family’s income cannot exceed 50% of the local area’s average income. Applying for this program is similar to the previous method discussed by visiting hud.gov and locating your nearest housing agency.
Food Stamp Program (SNAP)
The food stamp program named Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a federally aided nutrition program that helps assist with food expenses and to buy healthy food.
The funds are given to you in the form of a plastic card called a electronic funds transfer which works similarly to a debit card, and is used at the register. Anybody who is eligible can receive SNAP including individuals, families and even the homeless.
SNAP eligibility requirements are based on a calculation of your family size, citizenship status, your household income and certain other expenses. A great resource to see if you are eligible for this program can be seen at gettingfoodstamps.org. Here you will find a calculator which will help determine if you are eligible. Many people do not now this program exists and it can be a great benefit to many families and individuals. If there is anybody you may know that may benefit from this program please spread the word.
You can apply for this program online at by visiting fns.usda.gov. Here you will find resources to contact your local snap office. The site even contains direct links to your state to apply online. This database even contains a list of all the SNAP retailers by location. It can take up to 30 days to receive your SNAP benefits after you first apply. However you may be entitled to receive expedited SNAP benefits which you may receive within 7 days .
Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
This is similar too SNAP as WIC is a special supplemental nutrition program for women, infants, and children. The program provides federal grants to states who then use the finds for items such as supplemental foods, nutrition education and even health care referrals to low income pregnant postpartum women. It also includes children and infants up to age 5 who are viewed to be a nutritional risk.
The average length of the program varies from six months to a year, as when the benefit period expires you can then re apply. In order to be eligible the applicant must be at or below a income level set by the state in which they reside. Furthermore in order for someone to be considered at nutritional risk they must be seen by a physician or nutritionist to determine if they are at a nutritional risk.
Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program(LIHEAP)
The LIHEAP is a program that helps low income families stay safe and healthy as well as provide financial assistance on energy costs, such as home energy bills, energy crises, as well as energy related home repairs.To be eligible for this program, LIHEAP guidelines state that 150 percent of the poverty level is the maximum income level allowed. The application process is done at a state level, so applicants must contact their state agency. This information can be found online. The two main categories in low income households that LIHEAP concentrates on is:
- vulnerable households which include frail elderly individuals, very young children, and individuals with disabilities
- high energy burden households in relation with the lowest income households and highest energy costs
Assets for Independence
This is a community based program to financially assist low income families in the community. This is done through the use of matched savings accounts called Individual Development Accounts(IDAs). The main functions of the Assets for Independence include:
- awarding grants to non profit organizations
- managing a resource center to help support AFI grantees.
- managing and improving on IDAs usage and implementation
It works by providing grants to non profit organizations who then use the funds to set up IDAs for low income families. In order to receive the grant your organization must have 501(c)(3) status. Furthermore, to be able to receive the grant you must be one of the following:
- non profit organization
- state or local government
- tribal governments
- low income credit unions
- community development financial institutions
Family Unification Program
The family unification program is a program in which Housing Choice Vouchers (HCVs) are provided to two general populations:
- families who have insufficient housing is a factor in the placement of the family’s children in out of home care, or the delay in the discharge of the children to the family in out of home care.
- Youth who are at least 18 years old and no older then 21 years old who left foster care at age 16 who do not have adequate housing.
The Salvation Army
This is a great, sometimes forgotten resource that can be of great help for low income families who are having difficulties paying their rent with partial rent payments. The main priorities the salvation army serves are single parents, seniors, and families with children who are at a great risk of losing their housing or already homeless.
To find local assistance and to inquire about you eligibility contact your local Salvation Army community center which can be found online or even in a phone directory. For assistance online the salvation army website can be found at salvationarmyusa.org.
CoAbode Single Mothers House Sharing
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This program offers a different service which matches single mothers with other single mothers of their choice to live in the same housing unit. Doing so allows the mother to split the rent and allow for extra money to be spent on other much needed resources. Furthermore, this program also provides support groups, scholarships and community outreach which can help being a single mother an easier process to handle.