If you listen to the news at all, you’ll know the average student debt has skyrocketed, and individuals have been left with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of personal debt. Add that to the struggling economy and a tight job market, and you’re looking at a serious financial setback. Luckily, there are things you can do to minimize you’re debt, one of which is to look for special grants (ie. free money) to help you pay for college.
Grants vs. Scholarships
Grants work like scholarships, in that they don’t need to be paid back and they never accumulate interest. However, while scholarships are available based on both financial need and merit, grants are usually only available based on financial need. Most grants are provided by the government, although some can be found through private institutions.
Federal Pell Grants
You can be eligible for a Federal Pell Grant at any age, if you have not yet earned a bachelor’s or professional degree, and you have not previously been incarcerated. The value of a Pell Grant depends on your financial need, but the maximum award given in 2017 was $5,920, according to the U.S. Department of Education.
Other Government Grants:
Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant – You are eligible for this grant if you had a parent who died serving in Iraq or Afghanistan within the last 16 years, and you were under 24 or enrolled in college at the time.
TEACH Grant – If you plan to become a teacher, a TEACH Grant may be available to you. A TEACH Grant is an amount of money up to $4,000, given to students who are completing coursework toward a degree or career in teaching/education. The Budget Control Act of 2011 has reduced the amount available, but you may still be eligible for up to $3,724 toward your college tuition.
How to Apply
Visit the Federal Student Aid website, to view the requirements for applying. Although the amount of money you are eligible for is variable from year to year, you could still significantly reduce the amount you need to borrow for college. And since you don’t pay interest on grant money, that could mean savings for a long time to come.