Federal Grants - It's Not Just the Pell Grant
Grants available from the US Department of Education
When it comes to paying for education, grants are an important and integral part of the process. Most students have heard of Pell Grants, but there are more programs available directly funding student’s needs. There are also grant programs which are indirectly available to students through the institution they are attending. The main programs are:
- Pell Grants
- Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)
- Grants for Access and Persistence Programs (GAP)
- Iraq and Service Grant (IASG)
- Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership (LEAP)
- Teacher Education Assistance for College & Higher Education (TEACH)
A primer on Grants
In most cases, grants are provided for financially needy students at all levels of education. Grants are generally provided to help pay for the expenses of attending school, but they can also be used for other expenses in certain cases. In any case, what matters most is grants do not have to be repaid.
Pell Grants lead the way to help pay for college
Pell Grants are provided to undergraduate students in amounts ranging from $550 to $5,500 per school year based upon the student’s financial need. Pell Grants, and all other federal grant programs, are applied for using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application form. This form can be filled out online, filled out on the form itself and mailed in, or by telephone. The form can be found here.
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) Program
Another important grant program available directly to undergraduate students is the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant. This program is available to undergraduate students through participating postsecondary colleges and universities via the school’s financial aid department. Recipients are selected according to federal guidelines and most recipients receive an average of $736 but they can be eligible to receive up to $4,000 for each year of school.
Grants for Access and Persistence Programs (GAP)
States that participate in the Grants for Access and Persistence Programs apply for these funds which are then provided to undergraduate and graduate students in financial need. Students apply for these funds through their school’s financial aid office utilizing the FAFSA application form. Average award is $1,000 for qualifying students.
Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant (IASG)
These grants are not based on need, but rather are awarded to eligible dependents of veterans who cannot receive a Pell Grant because of a high Expected Family Contribution. The US Department of Education provides funds to institutions for all of the school’s IASG-eligible students. Like a Pell Grant, an IASG is considered by the government to be a first source of financial aid and the grant award is not reduced if the student receives aid from other resources. Average award for eligible students is $4,539 and can go up to $5,500 per year.
Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership (LEAP) Program
This program is funded to the states which, in turn, provide funding to students. Undergraduate and graduate students having substantial financial need apply to the state in which they reside for financial assistance under the program. Access to the funds is obtained via the institution’s financial aid office and the average award for eligible students is $1,000 but can range up to $5,000 in some cases.
Teacher Education Assistance for College & Higher Education (TEACH) Program
Undergraduate and graduate students who attend eligible institutions and are enrolled in an academic program which prepares them to be highly qualified teachers in a high-need field may apply. In most cases, the student must have a grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.25 or receive a qualifying score on an admission test. (There are exceptions for graduate students who are current or former teachers; or retirees in certain high-need fields).
Recipients must sign an agreement to teach in qualifying schools and subject areas for at least four years, and to complete that teaching service within eight years of graduation. If the student does not fulfill the teaching service requirement, the grant amount must be repaid as a Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loan. Program awards range from $25 to $4,000, with the average award being $2,500.
More grants are available
There are other federally-based programs and grants available to undergraduate and graduate students. Information on these additional grant programs can be found here & along with complete details and program parameters for all federal programs currently being offered. Students are encouraged to review the current program offerings from the US Department of Education to determine their eligibility for receiving funds.