Federal Grants for College: What are the Different Types?

College scholarships and education grants can help you get a higher education without the burden of debt. College grants and scholarships are free money that can pay for your education. Depending on your circumstances, there are different types of education and federal grants for college available. Grants for college students can include federal Pell grants, Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG), and college scholarships. 

Applying for college grants and scholarships may open the way for you to pursue a college education. 

For many high school graduates and older, non-traditional students, the high cost of colleges puts higher education out of reach. The worry about the level of debt to pay for a college degree is the main factor causing many people to avoid further education. According to a report by the National Center for Education, it can cost between $17,237 and $44,551 per year to study at higher education institutions. 

Scholarships and grants are other ways to pay for college fees. These can significantly reduce the amount of debt acquired from tuition fees. 

So, if you are interested in attending college for the first time or as an older student, it makes sense to explore the possibility of receiving free grants for college.

Different Types of Education Grants – Overview

There are many kinds of education grants to help pay for tuition fees. These grants and scholarships are often called “gift aid.” Gift aid is free money that you can receive from federal sources, colleges, or private organizations. In other words, the money is free and you don’t have to pay it back after you graduate.

Sometimes, the terms “grants” and “scholarships” are used interchangeably. However, there is a difference in these types of funding. 

College grants are need-based and are provided based on your or your family’s financial situation. 

College scholarships are merit-based and are awarded if you meet specific academic or athletic criteria.

Scholarships and Student Grants

If you are looking to start your college education and avoid burying yourself in debt, then the first step is to find scholarships or student grants. 

The federal government, your local college, or private or nonprofit organizations all provide grants and scholarships. Later in the article, you will find more information on the types of student grants available. 

There are thousands of different kinds of scholarships for a college education. Organizations will award some scholarships based on your talents, academic achievements, or your background. This means that depending on the standards you meet, a scholarship can pay for all or part of your tuition. 

To find scholarships, you should speak with the college you plan to attend. You can also search online, speak to federal agencies, or speak with organizations related to your area of interest. There you will also find out how to apply for scholarships. 

Federal Grants for College

What if you are unable to locate a suitable scholarship, or if the scholarship only covers part of your tuition? In this situation, your next step is to look for federal grants. Federal grants are a type of financial government assistance program for people on low incomes.

To apply for a federal grant based on financial need, you need to fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA is not just for student grants. You can also use FAFSA if you need to apply for federal loans. The U.S. government’s website has information on applying for grants with the FAFSA application.

What are the different types of education grants to assist paying for college tuition fees?

Federal Pell Grants for College

Federal Pell Grants are need-based grants to undergraduates who come from a low-income background. Pell grants are the most common source of free funding for college students. 

As with most federal grants, the first step to see if you are eligible is to complete the FAFSA application. You’ll have to complete the FAFSA application every year you attend college. 

The amount you receive from a Pell grant is set out annually by the Department of Education. Furthermore, the amount you can receive depends on several factors. For example, some of these include: 

  • The cost of tuition fees
  • Your expected family contribution (EFC)
  • The length of time you plan to attend college.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)

If you qualify for a Federal Pell Grant, you may also be eligible for a Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant. The SEOG is awarded to students who demonstrate the greatest financial need. 

The difference between Pell Grants and FSEOG is that the college awards the grant, not the federal government. However, under normal circumstances, you don’t have to repay a Pell Grant or an FSEOG. 

Other Types of Education Grants for college

The most popular types of FAFSA grants are Pell Grants and FSEOG. However, depending on your circumstances, there are other college grants to assist with paying for your education. 

Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grants

TEACH grants are available if you have financial need and you plan to become a teacher after you graduate. After filling out a FAFSA form, you may be able to enroll in a school that has a TEACH Grant-eligible program.  

Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants

If you qualify for a Federal Pell Grant and one of your parents or guardians died during their military service in Iraq or Afghanistan, you may also be eligible for the grant. 

Federal Student Loans

If you are not eligible for federal grants or scholarships, your next best option is to apply for a federal student loan. You can also use these government-backed education loans to pay for tuition if your scholarship or grants don’t cover the fees. 

The three types of federal education loans are:

Direct subsidized loans – These are available to undergraduate students who have financial need. As a result, these student loans have favorable terms and conditions as well as easy loan repayments.

Direct unsubsidized loans -There is no financial requirement with these loans, and they are available for both undergraduate and graduate students. The school you plan to attend determines the amount you receive and the amount of any other financial aid you can get.

Direct PLUS loans – These are paid to graduates (grad PLUS) or parents (parent PLUS) to cover tuition fees that other financial aid doesn’t pay for.

But remember that unlike scholarships and grants, you have to repay federal student loans. 

The advantages of federal education loans are that they have fixed interest rates and income-driven repayment plans. These are the reasons to apply for federal student loans to help pay for college expenses not covered for by gift aid arrangements. 

Private Student Loans

Private student loans are usually the last resort if you need additional financing to pay for college tuition fees.

Banks, credit unions, and private or state organizations offer tuition financing loans. However, they tend to be more expensive than federal loans. Therefore, the disadvantages of using private loans to fund tuition are that interest rates are higher, and payment terms are less favorable. 

Search this site for more information on relieving the burden of debt and accessing other government financial assistance programs.