College costs have skyrocketed in the last few decades, making it difficult for many students to go on to college after high school and earn a degree that will help them secure a better financial future.
Through our Financial Coaching Program, we help parents understand their options when it comes to sending their children off to college. As a Financial Planner with many decades of experience, I find that my clients often are not aware that there are many ways to pay for college, and loans may not be the best option.
In this blog post, I have 10 ways you can pay for your college using grants and other methods. The very first one is to look to 6 Grants that do not need to be repaid. Colleges, states, and federal government give out grants. Always apply and try not to think you do not qualify. Every year grants are left on the table because people do not think they qualify.
Apply and find out: “what do you have to lose”? The answer can only be either yes or no, and it is not up to you to make that decision. How do you qualify? You may need to apply and get in the Game: complete the FAFSA Form applications as they are accepted every year in October. Learn more at FAFSA.gov
- Federal Pell Grants are usually awarded only to undergraduate students. The amount of aid you can receive depends on your financial need, the cost of attendance at your school, and more. The Pell Grant application process is the same as any federal financial aid process—you need to complete the FAFSA. The current maximum Pell Grant aid ($6,495 for the 2021-2022 school year)
2. Academic Competitiveness Grants (ACG) are awarded to Federal Pell Grant recipients who have successfully completed a rigorous high school program, as determined by their state or local education agency, and recognized by the Secretary of Education. The Higher Education Reconciliation Act of 2005 created two need-based grant programs to complement the Federal Pell Grant Program (# 84.063, also under topical heading Federal Student Aid): Its very important to talk to your high school counselor and receive help to apply early enough to qualify.
To be eligible for either grant, a student must be eligible for a Pell Grant (see Federal Pell Grant Program, # 84.063, also under topical heading Federal Student Aid) for that award year (as indicated above) and be enrolled at least half-time.
For more information, visit http://www.studentaid.ed.gov/PORTALSWebApp/
- National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent (SMART) Grants are available to students for their third and fourth academic years of college and are intended to encourage students to pursue college majors in high demand in the global economy, such as science, mathematics, technology, engineering, and critical foreign languages. You are here: Home/ College Financial Aid / Financial Aid Programs / Government Student Grants / National SMART Grant
How do I know if I am eligible?
You must meet each of the following qualifications:
- Be a rising junior or senior in college
- Be majoring in physical, life, or computer sciences, mathematics, technology, or engineering, or a foreign language determined critical to national security
- Be enrolled in school full-time
- Take at least one course required for your major during the semester in which the SMART Grant is awarded
- Have and maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0 during the period in which the SMART Grant is awarded
How much is the SMART Grant worth?
The SMART Grant is worth up to $4,000 for each of the last two years of undergraduate study.
The amount of the Pell Grant combined with the SMART Grant may not exceed your total cost of your attendance, which includes tuition, fees, room, and board.
- TEACH Grantsprovide grants to students who agree to teach in a high-need field for four years at an elementary school, secondary school, or educational service agency that serves students from low-income families. You’ll need to apply for a TEACH Grant every year by submitting the FAFSA. You’ll also need to complete TEACH Grant counseling and sign a new Agreement to Serve every year and meet other requirements.
- Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants (FSEOG)assist low-income undergraduate students who need a lot of financial aid to help pay for college. Each participating school receives a certain amount of FSEOG funds each year from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Federal Student Aid. Once all of the school’s FSEOG funds have been awarded to students, no more FSEOG awards can be made for that year.
- Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grantsare available to students whose parent or guardian died as a result of military service after September 11, 2001, in Iraq or Afghanistan and meet other eligibility requirements.
Lillian Meyers CFP®, CDFA®, EA is a financial planner in Sonoma, California helping clients live their best life through the use of financial planning, investment management, and other sophisticated financial options.