The federal government offers financial aid programs such as education loans, scholarships, and grants to help cover college expenses, including tuition fees, books, etc. The grants are given to students attending four-year career schools, community colleges, and universities. Unlike federal education loans, most student grants need not be repaid.
The U.S. Department of Education (ED) offers four grants to qualified people. They include:
You can receive Federal Pell Grants only if you are an undergraduate student who needs immense financial help and has not earned your bachelor’s, graduate, or professional degree. The amount received through grants need not be repaid, except under certain situations.
The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants are directly administered by the financial aid office at each participating school. You can receive this grant if you are an undergraduate student who has not earned a bachelor’s or graduate degree and need financial help. Like Pell Grants, grants received through FSEOG need not be repaid.
You can receive this grant if you are an undergraduate, post-baccalaureate, or graduate student enrolled in programs that prepare you to teach in high-need fields at the elementary or secondary school level.
Other eligibility requirements include agreeing to serve for at least four years as a full-time teacher in high-need fields in an educational service agency or a school that serves students from low-income families. Note that you must agree to serve in high-need fields within (within 8 years) of completing or ceasing enrollment in the program.
You must also attend a participating school and meet academic achievement requirements. This includes maintaining a cumulative minimum 3.25 GPA or scoring above the 75% on one or more portions of your college admissions test.
If you fail to complete the teaching service commitment, your grant will be converted to an Unsubsidized Direct Loan.
You can receive this grant if you are a student whose parent or guardian was a member of the United States armed forces and died while performing military service in Afghanistan or Iraq after 9/11.
Other eligibility requirements include not qualifying for a Federal Pell Grant (only based on meeting the expected family contribution). Also, you must have been younger than 24 years of age or enrolled at least part-time at a career school or college at the time of the parent’s or guardian’s death.
You can apply for federal grants by submitting a FAFSA form, an application for student grants. Once you submit the form, your college or career school will update you on the amount you may receive and when you can expect to receive it. Note that you must fill the FAFSA form every year to continue receiving federal student aid.
Generally, you need not repay federal student grants. However, under certain circumstances, you will be required to repay the amount. They include:
Your school or college will notify you if you are required to repay your grant. You will have 45 days from the date of receiving the notification to either repay or enter into a satisfactory repayment arrangement.
If you enter into a satisfactory repayment arrangement, your school may assign your loan to ED for collection purposes or keep the debt and allow you to make payments to the school directly.