Even though it may be a bit more work, it's worth it to find free grant money for community college. There are many different sources and types of grants available for students, regardless of financial need or academic standing. Grants allow students to get a degree without any financial burden.
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While the cost of attending community college has increased over the years, it's nowhere near as expensive as it is to attend a public or private college or university. However, it can be a struggle to find the financial help to get a degree or certificate from a community college for many people. Students are lucky these days, as they have access to more types of funding that can help them through school. In fact, there is a chance with grants to graduate debt-free — it all depends on how motivated you are to apply for financial aid.
Unlike fellowships or scholarships, grants are literally free money towards education and do not require the recipient to repay any money. Grants are usually awarded based on financial need, rather than academic performance, but it is taken into consideration in some cases. Grants come from many sources, from federal funding to private companies. Provided below are some ways to help you save money in community college by applying for grant money.
Sources of Grants
There are four main places that funding for grants comes from, including:
- Federal grants given through the US government are used to enhance economic output, encourage college attendance, and increase global competitiveness. There are many grant programs, from the Pell Grant to the Academic Competitive Grant, and much more.
- State grants given to students for a variety of reasons, from attending a community college in the state to being a resident of a particular state, even getting an education with the intent to serve the state.
- Colleges usually have their own grant programs, which are paid for by the school or external organizations.
- Private grants from employers, professional associations, community organizations, or credit unions also help students obtain a higher education.
Types of Grants
There are tons of myths and misconceptions out there about who is qualified or eligible to receive grants. Some students think that because they earn too much or they do not have academic prowess, they're not entitled to receive grant money. This is not the case, as there are many different types of grants that apply to different students:
- Need-based grants are given to students in financial need.
- Talent-based grants are given to students who excel in a particular area of study.
- Level-based grants are given to students in a particular program or academic standing.
- Merit-based grants are given to students with high GPAs, community service, or extracurricular involvement.
- Public and private student grants that can only be used at specific educational institutions.
- Demographic-based grants are given to certain students with specific characteristics or entry into a particular program.
- Project-based grants are given for scientific research, the arts, social services, or advanced technologies.
- Student-specific grants are geared towards a specific type of student, like those in military families.
- Minority-specific grants are given to a range of groups, from women to African American students, and many more.
To find all these different types of grants ask friends, check with schools, professional associations, and online — the resources are endless, you just have to look.
Applying for Student Grants
Besides looking at your individual characteristics to determine which grants you should apply for, you must also consider things like your financial need to future occupation, as it is important to apply for as many grants as possible, as soon as possible. To apply for grants you must:
- Meet all of the eligibility requirements
- Apply early and often
- Give all the requested information
- Have a reason for the money
- Make sure all essays and documents meet guidelines
- Use proper spelling and grammar
- Edit and proofread all documents
- Stay organized
It's important to be flexible when applying for grants, as specific grants may not be available in your state, but two or three states over. Ensure you consider all the potential areas your degree or coursework applies to when considering grants to apply for. Furthermore, make sure you consider your individual circumstances, what groups you belong to, like a minority or part of the US Armed Forces — even having a special talent in a particular area helps. Don't forget to get a second opinion from an advisor, if you're unsure if you should be applying for a specific grant. Review all documents and the application before you submit to ensure they are accurate.
Benefits of Student Grants
The main benefit of a student grant is that it's essentially free money that is given to help with any type of college expenses. In fact, grants can range in amount, from a few hundred dollars to a large lump sum that covers the full program or cost of the degree. However, the majority of grants are roughly between five hundred to two thousand dollars. Grants provide many benefits to people throughout the United States:
- Assistance for young and older students to continue their education
- Giving disadvantaged youth the chance to go to community college
- Helping unemployed people to receive job training and get in the workforce
- Permitting working adults to return to school, while still being able to work and care for their family
- Allowing socially, ethnically, economically, and financially diverse students to receive a higher education
Grants allow students to attend any type of school they wish, from colleges and universities to community colleges to vocational schools. Grants can be used toward tuition, books, fees, research materials, living expenses, studying abroad, and many other expenses that are related to getting an education. In fact, students should know that there is really no difference between grants, scholarships, and fellowships, and they should look into all three for financial aid.