The Financial Help You Need
Educational grants are financial awards offered to students who need help meeting the costs of their education. Unlike student loans, grants for education do not have to be repaid. And unlike scholarships, higher education grants are usually awarded on a noncompetitive basis.
Discretionary government education grants represent a significant source of funding for post secondary students in need. Usually, federal education grants are disbursed to state educational agencies, which then assign the monies on a localized basis to specific institutions. Then, students apply directly to the institution, which awards monies to students meeting outlined criteria. Generally, educational grants are awarded on a need basis, though students receiving funding usually have to meet predetermined standards of academic performance.
Specific Types of Educational Grants
Educational grants are sometimes made available to specific types of students. Often, these grants are awarded to students in nontraditional programs, students with disabilities or students who have overcome other significant limitations to return to school.
Adult education grants are monies made available to mature students who are returning to higher education after a long hiatus. Many adults — particularly those with families — have significant trouble meeting their tuition and living expenses, and taking out student loans is not always an option for adults with previous financial commitments. Adult education grants are designed to help these students cover the shortfall; usually, there is an age minimum that must be met for eligibility.
There are other special education grants offered to students with physical or mental disabilities, as well as to minorities and women studying subjects traditionally dominated by men. Many scholarships are available to students facing these challenges as well.
Private Educational Grants
Some private agencies offer private educational grants to both institutions and individual students. The Carnegie Foundation, for example, is well-known for offering funding assistance for education. Criteria for these educational grants will differ from what's required to qualify for federal education grants. Each private agency sets its own criteria, so expect significant variation.
Educational grants are there to take some of the financial bite out of post secondary education. Consider them in addition to scholarships, bursaries and student loans if you need money to complete your studies.