Qualifications You Need in Order to Be Awarded a Federal Grant For College

The option to further one’s education is far greater today than ever before. There are good programs set up to help students and their families, which almost anyone can qualify for. Those who qualify for any assistance will be a U.S. citizen, not owe for any previous federal loans, and be enrolled in an eligible program. There are three major types of financial assistance available: governmental grants, student loans, and scholarships.

Getting Started With FAFSA

Before any of these can be applied for, a student must fill out a Free Application for Student Financial Aid (FAFSA). The application is found on the FAFSA website online and will be used to determine eligibility.

Anyone under the age of 24 will be considered a dependent. Those over 24 will be independent. Dependent students will need their parent’s financial information, as it will be used to determine eligibility for federal grant money. Independents will not need to provide parental documentation as the outcome is based on their own income. Any free money available will be applied to a student’s account before any other type of financial aid can be awarded. Below are the three main programs for financial assistance:

Government Grants

Grants are means tested, or needs based. This means that qualification for them is based on a students income and other factors that may demonstrate the need for help. The most common grant available is the Pell Grant.

Pell grants are free money. They are most commonly provided for parents and adults who otherwise could not afford to attend a school. Pell or any other types of grants do not need to be paid back by the student. Once funds are released to the school, it will be applied first to tuition. The remaining balance is generally refunded to the student for help with buying books and other supplies.

Student Loans

Student loans are cash loans from the federal or state government, private companies or banks which are applied after any grants that were available to cover tuition and school costs. Loans are not means tested, or needs based, allowing anybody to borrow up to a set amount of money. The amount of the loan is determined by the educational program and can be used for living expenses.

Students do not need to qualify for grants to apply for loans, but having federal grants will not affect the ability to borrow money. Loans can help with transportation, food, and other living costs. Students typically have to start paying on their loans six months after they graduate or leave the program.


Scholarships are the last stop when looking for funding. All scholarships are different as far as their qualifications and guidelines go. Generally, there are only limited amounts of money the scholarship foundations can give out in any given year. So it is a good idea to apply to them as soon as possible. Many, but not all, will be largely based on a minimum G.P.A., area of study or major and financial need from the student. Information can be found through the school or on the website.

FAFSA Application

Once the FAFSA application is filled out and submitted online, it will be sent to the school or schools indicated on the student’s application. Afterwards, the student will be notified by the federal government directly giving an estimate of how much aid the student qualifies for.

The total may be different from the amount awarded by the institution as they are the ones who determine what they can give. They try to fund as many students as possible.

The amount of aid can also go up each year as long as the student continues to meet requirements and repeats the process of filing their FAFSA each year.