Cash for College: Grants

What Are Grants?

  • Grants are called gift aid because you don’t have to pay them back. Grant money comes from the federal government, state governments, and colleges.
  • NeedBased Grants. Most grants awarded are based on financial need. The government and college look at your family’s financial circumstances to determine how much money support they can give you. A Pell Grant is the federal government’s needbased aid program, and it is worth up to $6,345 during the 2020–21 award year.
  • MeritBased Grants. Colleges look at your academic record to determine how much money they can give you.

How Do I Get Grant Money To Pay For College?

  • In order to get grant money, you need to fill out a form called the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)High school students and their families fill out the FAFSA during their senior year. The FAFSA takes into account your family’s financial situation and gives you an estimate of how much aid you’ll need to afford college.
  • Don’t forgetthere’s a deadline! October 1 of the year before you plan to go to college is the first day you can file the FAFSA. The college you go to or the scholarship you want to apply for might have specific deadlines. Aim to file the FAFSA as close to October 1 as possible. Financial aid dollars are limited and are usually awarded on a firstcome, firstserved basis! 

Should I Only Look At Cheaper Schools?

  •  Don’t rule out “expensive” colleges! Remember that there’s a big difference between sticker price (the advertised cost of tuition + room and board, fees, books, etc.) and the real cost, or net price (the cost of tuition minus grants and scholarships). Even though a college charges a lot for tuition, it might offer you generous financial aid. It might even be more affordable than colleges that charge lower tuition. So think about the real cost or net price, not the published price  and don’t be afraid to apply to colleges you think you can’t afford.

Where Can I Find Out More About Grants?

Types of Grant Awards


  • Up to $6,345 for the 2020-2021 award year [amount can change yearly]
  • Dependent upon financial need
  • Must complete FAFSA in order to be eligible


More information about Federal Grant Programs.



  • There are also career-based grants, minority-based grants, grants based on your status as a single mom or a first-generation college student, and grants based on the type of school you attend.
  • Grant search resources:

Career Based Grants 

  • Grants can be found based on intended career choices.
  • Where can you find information about these?
  • Some examples include:
    • Journalism
    • Engineering
    • Social work
    • Nursing
    • Art school
    • Law school
    • Cosmetology
    • Trade school
    • Beauty school
    • Medical school
    • Teaching

Minority Based Grants 

  • Grants can be found based on various minorities.
  • Where can you find information about these?
  • Some examples include
    • Native American grants
    • Latinx grants
    • Grants for Black women

Grants Based on Student Type

  • Grants can be found based on different types of students.
  • Where can you find information about these?
  • Some examples include
    • Women grants
    • Single mom grants
    • First generation college student grants
    • Adult grants
    • Disabled student grants
    • Low income student grants
    • Non traditional student grant

Grants Based on School Type

  • Grants can be found based on the type of school you attend.
  • Where can you find more information about these?
  • Some examples include
    • Undergraduate grants
    • Graduate grants
    • Doctoral grants
    • Private school grants
    • Catholic school grants