Archive for 'Grants'

Sodexo Foundation STOP Hunger Scholarship Program Now Accepting Applications

Recognizing and Rewarding Students who Fight Hunger in America with $5,000 Scholarships

The Sodexo Foundation, the anti-hunger charitable arm of Sodexo, Inc., opened applications for its national STOP Hunger Scholarship program on January 1, 2011.

Sodexo Foundation Stop Hunger

Sodexo Foundation Stop Hunger

Up to five students will be selected as national winners. Each will receive a $5,000 scholarship award and a matching $5,000 grant in their name for the hunger charity of their choice. In addition, up to 20 students will earn regional recognition, with a $1,000 donation in their name to the hunger charity of their selection. The deadline for applications is February 18, 2011. For a complete description of the program or an online application visit

The STOP Hunger Scholarships recognize students (K-grad school) who are driving awareness and mobilizing youth to be catalysts for innovative models and solutions to eliminate hunger in America.  First introduced in 2007, the scholarships support the education of young people who are working to end hunger in communities across the country – and to draw attention to the innovative and effective solutions that they are implementing toward ending hunger in their lifetime.

“One in four people on line at food banks is a child,” said Stephen J. Brady, president of the Sodexo Foundation. “The STOP Hunger Scholarship program recognizes that young people not only are the victims of this national tragedy, many of them are offering fresh, creative and effective solutions so that their friends and neighbors – and even complete strangers – have enough to eat.”

According to Share Our Strength, millions of kids struggle with hunger. In one of the wealthiest countries in the world, more than 17 million kids don’t get the food they need. That’s millions of kids who are sick more often, have trouble learning, and are more likely to develop behavioral and emotional problems.

The scholarships will be presented on June 9, 2011 at the Sodexo Foundation Dinner in Washington, D.C.

To be eligible, students must be enrolled in an accredited education institution (kindergarten through graduate school) in the United States and be able to demonstrate an ongoing commitment to hunger-relief activities in their community.

The deadline for applications is February 18, 2011. For a complete description of the program or an online application visit

Watch videos of the 2010 recipients of the Stop Hunger Scholarship

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Starting today, July 1, 2010, the government will launch the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants.

These grants award students who are not eligible for a Pell Grant, but whose parent or guardian was a member of the U.S. Armed Forces and died as a result of service performed in Iraq or Afghanistan after September 11, 2001.

Visit the Student Aid on the Web website for more information on the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant.

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eligibility for pell grantAn additional one million students will be eligible for the Pell Grant this year, thanks to the federal government’s expansion of the program. While we know that there is no “one size fits all” Pell Grant recipient, it doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do to make yourself a little bit more attractive to the formula that determines whether or not you receive one. The amount of your Pell Grant award is based on a number of factors, including your Expected Family Contribution (EFC), which is the amount that the federal government determines your family can pay toward college costs, as well as the Cost of Attendance (COA) for your school of choice and whether you enroll in school full-time or part-time.

This week, we shared a press release that outlined four tips on increasing your eligibility to receive a Pell Grant award. Here’s a peek:

  1. Demonstrate a substantial financial need for aid to attend college be having as little money as possible on hand in your checking or savings accounts the day you file your FAFSA.
  2. File your tax return before completing your FAFSA, even if you have no income.
  3. If possible, opt to live on-campus.
  4. Avoid errors by completing the online version of the FAFSA.

To read the full release: Offers Tips on Increasing Eligibility for the Pell Grant

maximum pell grant awardOn Wednesday, President Obama proposed more money for Pell Grants that help qualified low-income students afford college. Starting in 2011, the maximum award will automatically increase alongside the rising cost-of-living, which would increase the maximum federal Pell Grant to $6,900 by 2019.

In the 2005-06 school year, the number of Pell Grant recipients grew to 6.2 million from 4.7 million. The average Pell Grant awarded also grew to $2,223 from $1,885. So, the proposed increase that President Obama mentioned on Wednesday would mean even more Pell grant money for even more qualified students!

So what does it take to meet pell grant qualifications?

Well, there is no “one size fits all” recipient.

Keep in mind, the Pell Grant is awarded to undergraduates with a high degree of unmet financial need; most Pell money goes to students with a total family income around or below $20,000. But, students whose families have a total income of up to $50,000 may be eligible too. In 2005-2006, students with family incomes of less than $20,000 accounted for 57% of Pell Grant recipients.

Your eligibility is determined by the FAFSA, and in order to meet Pell grant qualifications for the 2010-2011 school year, the highest your EFC should be around 4617, per Vicki Klinowski, of College Loan Consultant, who also provided the graph below. An EFC is the amount you or your family can be expected to contribute toward your college tuition.


2007-2008 Pell Grant Recipients by Income Level

Pell Grant qualifications can be affected by a student’s enrollment status as well as income earned through employment, too. Think about it – if you are enrolled half-time, your tuition is less and therefore you will require less aid. Undergraduates who work while they are enrolled are more likely to have incomes that decrease their eligibility for federal need-based aid (ahh, didn’t think of that, did you?). Some low-income students may even find themselves ineligible for Pell Grants because they are enrolled part time at very low cost colleges, or they work while they are enrolled, or do both.

In the 2003-2004 school year, more than 1.5 million college students who likely were eligible to receive Pell Grants didn’t bother applying for them because they found the FAFSA form too confusing. Don’t count yourself out! A number of changes have been made to the new FAFSA for the 2010-2011 school year which include simplifying the form.

What’s New: 2010 Pell Grant

2010_pell_grantThe 2010 Pell Grant is the most widely available grant program for undergraduate students. The 2010 Pell Grant maximum amount was raised to $5,500 for students enrolling for the 2010-2011 school year – that’s $150 more than last year’s maximum, meaning more good news for cash-strapped students!

Now, not all students will receive the full $5,500 amount; some will qualify for a percentage. The amount you receive is directly affected by your Expected Family Contribution (EFC), the cost of attending your school of choice, your enrollment status (full time, part time, etc.), and whether or not you are attending for a full academic year.

To apply for a Pell Grant, you must complete a FAFSA form. Completing your FAFSA will determine your eligibility not only for the 2010 Pell Grant but also for other loan and aid programs. One of the latest changes made to the process this year is the ability to get an initial estimate of your financial aid eligibility immediately after you’ve electronically signed and submitted your FAFSA. This Student Aid Report (SAR) indicates which federal grants you can expect to receive, as well as what student loans you are eligible for. In the past, you would’ve had to wait at least three weeks for this information.

If you do qualify for a Pell Grant, your SAR will say something along the lines of:

Based on your EFC of [amount], you appear to be eligible for the following:

  • A federal Pell Grant of up to $5350
  • Other federal grants, low-interest student loans and work study

For more information on Pell Grants including eligibility and applying, check out:


img_eg_guide_200Our Guide to Finding Scholarships & Grants for College is available! We set out to create a guide to financial aid that would help you understand the difference between scholarships and grants and what to expect about financial aid overall. Before we knew it, we had over 50 pages of private scholarships, tips on successfully applying for scholarships, information on federal education grants, and so much more.

Along the way, we came to realize that there was an underlying reason why our grant guide was so important. It wasn’t just to provide you with information that clarifies the different types of financial aid, but to help you identify the legitimate sources of grants and scholarships. You wouldn’t believe some of the scams we came across.

You’ve probably seen Internet or TV ads touting free government grants for school. The ads claim that, if you qualify to receive a “free grant” for your education, your application is guaranteed to be accepted, and you never have to repay the money – all they request is a processing fee in order to send you an application package that “is chock full of proprietary information” about getting this free money for school. The truth is, their application package is filled with general information and agency contacts that you can find online with a simple Google search.

These ads are tempting – the last couple years have been financially difficult (sometimes impossible) for most of us, so we’re lured by the possibility of free money. reports two-thirds of bachelor’s degree recipients last year graduated with an average debt of $23,000, so any extra funding to avoid this level of student loan or credit card debt is appealing.

But, armed with the right information like our guide to financial aid, you can quickly identify grant scams, and find that legitimate federal assistance and private and federal scholarships are freely available and accessible with a little diligence.

Click here to download the college grant guide!

Sometimes, financial aid seems so complicated that it ought to come with a how-to manual. For example, how do you find out what’s going on with your Pell Grant or other financial aid awards if they don’t arrive by the time you need them?

Jessica, an EducationGrant reader, asked that question, which is a good one. If you’re not sure which federal grants you qualified for or how the money gets to you, here are 4 ideas about where to look for answers.

1) Recheck your Student Aid Report. After you filed your FAFSA, you should have received a federal Student Aid Report (SAR) that told you what your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) to your college costs would be. If you qualified for a Pell Grant or any other federal grant, it would be noted in your SAR.

This doesn’t necessarily mean you would get a check for the Pell Grant amount, though. Usually, Pell Grants are sent straight to your school, who applies the money directly to your bill: your tuition, fees, and other costs of attendance.

2) Recheck your Financial Aid Award Letter. The school or schools you applied to each sends you an Award Letter to let you know how much financial aid that school can provide you.

The amount of financial aid you qualify for is based on your “unmet need” — the difference between your school’s cost of attendance and your EFC. But even if your EFC is zero, how much aid you actually get depends on whether you’re a fulltime or part-time student, the length of your program, and the amount of need-based funding your school has to offer.

If you qualified for a Pell Grant, your school’s Award Letter will confirm it and include the amount in your total financial aid package.

3) Talk to your school’s financial aid office. If your SAR and Award Letter note that you qualified for a Pell Grant, talk to your financial aid administrator to confirm that your school received the money from the federal government. If they did, then your Pell Grant probably went straight to the school’s Finance office, where it was applied as needed to your tuition, fees, and other attendance charges.

If your cost of attendance was equal to or more than your Pell Grant, you wouldn’t have gotten any “change” back, but if your Pell Grant was more than your cost of attendance, your school would likely have sent you the leftover money. In either case, your financial aid office should be able to determine where your Pell Grant went.

4) Call the U.S. Student Aid Information Center. If you think you must have qualified for a Pell Grant but don’t see any mention of one on your SAR or Award Letter, or if your financial aid office has no record of one, call the federal financial aid Information Center at 1-800-433-3243, 1-800-730-8913 (TTY), or 1-319-337-5665. (You may be asked for your FAFSA PIN.) They may be able to review your FAFSA with you or give you other instructions for checking your federal financial aid status online.

By the way, don’t forget that your FAFSA doesn’t automatically renew every year. You’ll need to file a FAFSA for each year you’re in school.

Paying for college is not a simple matter these days. College tuition is up across the country, even at state universities, along with just about every other college-related expense. At some community colleges, not even the new maximum Pell Grant ($5,350 in 2009 and $5,500 in 2010) may be enough to cover the entire cost of attendance.

No matter what’s going on with your financial aid situation, your school’s financial aid office is likely to be your best resource. Look to them for help with navigating your award package, finding potential scholarship opportunities, and appealing for more federal aid if your circumstances allow it.

The week is starting with some financial aid good news: it looks like Illinois students are going to get their MAP College Grants back.

A few months ago, state budget gaps and an earlier-than-usual application deadline resulted in depriving more than 130,000 low-income students of the Illinois Monetary Award Program college grants they were counting on. Yesterday, the Illinois governor signed legislation that approved the restoration of the MAP program’s 2009-2010 funding. The only thing is: no one’s exactly sure yet where the $200 million is going to come from.

The governor thinks he and the Illinois legislature can figure out a way to borrow it from a state bank account or two that ended up with more money than they needed this year. But however they manage it, it must be a relief to Illinois college students to know that they’ll get their MAP college grants after all, and that they won’t be forced to drop out of school.

If you’re a student in a state where it doesn’t look like state financial aid is coming back any time soon, you can always appeal to your school’s financial aid office for help. If you can prove that student aid you were counting on fell through due to true economic hardship, your school may be able to get you more federal financial aid.

As far as Illinois is concerned, it appears that the budget cuts’ impact on college students (and the resulting publicity) has renewed state officials’ commitment to higher education, which is good news for everyone. The state’s only way back to a working economy is through education and training for new industries and new jobs. Both current students and workers who were laid off too late to make the state financial aid deadline last spring will benefit from restored MAP college grants, and in the long run, so will Illinois.

Grad School Grants

Believe it or not, if you’re thinking about continuing your education with a graduate degree, it’s already time to start researching grants for grad school. Scholarships and grants for grad school are highly competitive, so it may work to your advantage to prepare and apply as early as you can. Due to the extensive review process, many deadlines for the first round of grad school grant competitions are in the fall.

Grants for Grad School are Merit-based Aid

Grants and scholarships for grad school may have some need-based component to them, but they are usually merit-based. These are financial aid awards for students who have demonstrated outstanding academic achievement and professional promise in their fields, or who in other ways than financial need prove that they meet the intense eligibility criteria of the grad school grant or scholarship sponsor.

Many grants for grad school are classed as stipends, intended to cover education expenses ranging from cost of attendance to housing and living bills.

Grants for Grad School Sponsors: Colleges and Foundations

Individual colleges and universities are a primary source of grants for grad school because most graduate financial aid is department-specific. Many academic departments create their own graduate scholarships for students who excel in those fields. These days, there is a growing supply of department grad scholarships specifically for financially needy students.

Public and private sponsors, including nonprofit foundations, institutions, and corporations, are another source of scholarships and grants for grad school. There are any number of prestigious national foundations looking for the next generation of world leaders, game changers, and scholars for their equally prestigious graduate fellowships.

No Pell Grants for Grad Students

Graduate students do not qualify for Pell Grants, which are reserved for pre-bachelor degree undergraduates only. Grad students are eligible for federal TEACH grants, however, if you plan to pursuing a graduate teaching degree and are willing to teach low-income children in a designated teacher shortage area for 4 years post-graduation. Graduate students in teaching can get TEACH grants up to $8,000.

Searchable Grants for Grad School Database on the Federal Student Aid Website

The Federal Student Aid website maintains a scholarship database that lists thousands of grants and scholarships offered by both individual schools and private foundations.

The best way to search for suitable grants for grad school is by the subject you intend to get your graduate degree in. For example, a search on the subject keyword “communications” turned up 46 university and private scholarships. Not all were grants for grad school, but the extensive database brings into one place opportunities from all the best-known private sources as well as hundreds of colleges and universities.

Internet Scammer Tells All: FTC Video

In July, 2009, the Federal Trade Commission launched a new effort to crack down on Internet scams of all types: government grant offers, get-rich-quick come-ons, home-based businesses for single moms, guaranteed debt relief, guaranteed foreclosure prevention:

Well, we here at EducationGrant could drone on about get-rich-quick schemes all day, but identifying grant scams is like playing Whack-A-Mole: for every scam that gets whacked, a new one pops up:

Instead, here’s a description of cybercrime right from the horse’s mouth. The subject is fake business opportunities, but it applies equally to education grant scams, mortgage scams, and debt relief scams:

Courtesy of the Federal Trade Commission

Have a safe schoolyear, everyone!

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