Grant Money For College Education: 4 Flavors

Grant money for college comes in more than one flavor for your education. I’ll explain the types of grant money and what that means for your college money search. Grants are free money for college, and never have to be repaid.


I'll describe the Federal Supplemental Equal Opportunity Grant first. The FSEOG program awards grants to undergraduate students that have exceptional need. Students who qualify for this one come from very limited means. Meaning not much money.

Your max award from this program tops out at $4000. The actual amount will depend on your other financial aid, and any other money you have. Awards also depend on the FSEOG money your school has available, so check with the financial aid office.

To apply for this or other federal grants, you will fill out the FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid. More on this at the end.

2. Pell Grant

The Pell grant program currently tops out at $4300 this school year and will rise to a max of $5400 in 2012. You have some eligibility requirements, standard things like progressing in school, attending an eligible institution, be a citizen, and a few others. You can receive a Pell grant even if your family has an income of up to about $45,000. Most of the students who get a Pell grant have a household or personal income under $20,000.

Remember, once you qualify under federal student aid (FSA) guidelines, you can apply without including your parents’ income. I remember reaching that point at 22, and using Pell grants. Very helpful.

Have questions about why you haven't gotten your check yet? Check out the Pell grant delay page.

3. The Academic Competitiveness Grant

The ACG started in 2006 and only applies to first and second year undergraduate students. You can qualify for an award up to $750 for first year students and up to $1300 for second year students. This grant adds another qualification to get money for college. You must have completed a rigorous course of study in high school.

What is that? I looked at several. Basically, you have to do better than the basic graduation classes. You should look up your state to find out your requirements.

Every state has a description of a rigorous course of study, along with a few extras like DC, BIA, DOD schools, and Puerto Rico. And you have some options if you will finish high school soon. You can pass two advanced placement (AP) tests, or international baccalaureate (IB) tests. Some states offer a concurrent enrollment option, too, where passing core college classes while in high school will qualify you.


A new program called Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent (SMART) also offers federal government aid. This program aims directly at you engineers, scientists, and other highly technical fields. If you have a high tech major, you should apply. Be aware that this program complements the ACG above. The ACG applies to first and second year students, while SMART applies to third and fourth year students.

All of the above require that you fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (the FAFSA). If you use the online FAFSA, the form will update automatically to tell you that you can answer the ACG questions, which is how you apply for this program. If you used a paper FAFSA, your student aid report (SAR) will show you if you should answer the ACG questions or not.

For the SMART program, you need to call your financial aid office to apply. But it's worth it to find grant money for college, right?

More Grant Money...

That's quite a bit to do. Luckily you can start on all with one application. I have one more idea for grant money. I have it on its own page.

Take a look and see if it will help with your checkbook.

And to download free sources of grants, visit my Grants ebook page for download instructions.

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