How you can get grants to pay for college

On Monday, we talked about scholarships. Today it’s all about grants. 

Using grants to pay for college is great because, unlike loans, which we’ll talk about next week, you don’t have to pay grants back. Our financial aid director calls it “free money.” There are both state and federal grants.

Federal grants

Federal Pell grants are awarded to eligible students. During the 2010-11 academic year, grants ranged from $555 to $5,550. The average Pell grant in 2009-10 was $3,593.

Eligibility is based on four factors:

  • The cost to attend your school
  • Your family’s financial situation
  • Your family’s size
  • Whether you’ll be attending part time or full time

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity grants, which are also awarded to eligible students, range from $200 to $1,000.

State grants  

Individual states also offer grants. If you’re a Pennsylvania resident, the information on your FAFSA will be automatically sent to the American Education Services/Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, which will determine if you’re eligible to receive a state grant.

If you live in another state, the U.S. Department of Education has the contact information for the states’ higher education agencies, which can provide you with more information.

Next: Loans

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