Federal Grants that Help Pay for College
Federal government education grants are another source of funding for college. You’ve probably heard of the well-known Pell Grant, but two other federal grant programs you may not be familiar with are the Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG) and the National SMART (National Science & Mathematics Access to Retain Talent) Grant. In fact, the U.S. Department of Education is hoping that many more college students apply for these grants this year, because there was a lot of money left over last year.
You must be a Pell Grant recipient to qualify for an ACG or SMART grant. Beyond qualifying for a Pell grant, the ACG grant program requires good grades in challenging high school courses. Available to undergraduate 1st- and 2nd-year college students, the ACG also requires maintaining a 3.0 GPA. ACG awards range from $750 to $1300.
The National SMART grant is open to undergraduate 3rd- and 4th-year college students with a 3.0 average who are majoring in science, math, technology, engineering, or in a foreign language defined as essential for jobs in homeland security. SMART grant awards range up to $4000 per year.
Unlike student loans, grants are free money – you don’t have to pay them back! It’s worth your while to apply for as many grants as you’re eligible for, and to begin the process now, as soon as possible. There is a lot more federal money for college grants and financial aid than students realize, but you can’t leave it until April or May to apply. When it comes to federal student aid and college grants, the early bird gets the bucks!