For many students, paying for their post-secondary education is a serious concern. In addition to tuition and fees, there are other costs to consider including textbooks, materials, and in some cases, transportation, among others. The federal government has funds, in the form of grants, available to students who are in need of financial assistance.
A need-based grant is a specific amount of money awarded to students from the U.S. Department of Education based on their particular financial situation or need. It is not a loan – the grant money does not need to be repaid.
Once you fill out a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form and it is processed by your school’s financial aid office, you will find out how much grant money you are eligible for, if any. Some of the factors that may be considered in determining how much you are awarded are:
Expected Family Contribution (EFC) – this amount represents how much your family can afford to contribute to your education costs. It is based on the size of your family, family expenses, income and savings.
Cost of Attendance (COA) – this takes into account not only tuition and fees but also other costs including textbooks, materials or transportation.
Amount of time enrolled in school – this looks at whether you are a full-time or part-time student and whether you are enrolled for the entire academic year or less.
Some of the more common need-based grants are:
- Pell Grants
- Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)