Free Student Grant Opportunities

Grants: Unique Educational Funding Options

Within the wide scope of student loans and scholarships, yet another type of student aid exists: grants. While loans must be paid back, scholarships and grants are both gift aid. Traditionally scholarships were earned either by merit or some other outstanding criteria. Grants are traditionally awarded to boost some kind of need, traditionally financial, but as we’ll see newer types may also address other outstanding needs just as effectively.

In my article “Free College Scholarships and Education Funding Sources,” I describe the various types of scholarship programs available and their general applications. Like scholarships grants also exist through a variety of primary educational sources: federal government, state and local governments, and private parties.

Federal Educational Grant Programs Goals

Scholarships and grants funded through the federal government arguably provide a two-fold benefit: they provide much needed funds to the right applicants as much as they are a political response to the state of U.S. higher education.

Take, for instance the most recent pair of federally funded college grants: the Academic Competitiveness Grant and the National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant (National SMART Grant). This pair of grants likely grew out of recent reports and educational surveys that have widely advertised the academic weaknesses of American students as compared to their international peers. At the same time both boost the numbers of financially deprived undergraduates, they also design to hand-pick students in pursuit of very particular degrees in fields related to technology, engineering, math, the sciences and in specific foreign languages.

Root of Many Federal Grants

Perhaps the most well-known federal student grants are the Pell Grants. The Pell Grants are designed to provide federally funded aid to college students with a marked level of financial need. In fact these grants are used as the metric by which others are administered, including:

Pell Grant awards are based on an array of criteria including household income and cost of the student’s college tuition. Award amounts also vary with the federal funds allocated to the Pell Grants.

The High-Level Research Grant

The U.S. has been a worldwide leader in the research realm for decades. In fact federally funded grant programs have been instrumental funding tools that have fed the financial needs of various types of research entities that require fresh scholars to remain globally competitive. Most of these programs target high-level researchers, but nevertheless serve to underscore the nationalism associated with most educational grants.

Government research programs such as the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health and the Environmental Protection Agency keep running lists of current grant opportunities.

State Funded Educational Grants

Also in kind to scholarships many state governments provide one or more college grants that offer additional funds especially to financially needy residents. Unlike the federal grants, state grant programs cast a wider net in hopes to help boost the collegiate coffers of more and more state residents. In many cases eligible applicants must be enrolled within the state. Political motives are at play here, as well: keep college students close to home in hopes that as graduates they will remain in the state, as highly trained contributors to the economy and social fabric. Students interested in their state grant programs may find their state’s higher education agency on the federal government’s list.

Private Grant Sources

Private grant sources are numerous and include educational and research institutions, professional organizations, and business and industry sources.

Students may find nearly as many unique grant programs as scholarships—a little bit of something for everyone. In the process there are many scams and organizations bent on deceiving students. Students are urged to be cautious when shopping for grants. Never pay a service to locate scholarships or grant programs; this information is widely available for free.