With tuition costs rising, everyone is scrambling to get enough money for school. Student loan debt has now surpassed credit card debt as the highest type of debt among college graduates. Lots of people are looking for easy grants for college because this is money you do not have to pay back – so long as you complete the requirements.
For many years, I worked in higher education and I would always field questions from prospective students requesting free money or “Obama Mama Grants” they would see on the computer or hear about on the news. There is a lot of truth to this grant, it is just marketed in an interesting way. Basically, Barack Obama helped pass legislation that made easy grants more of a reality by loosening the income requirements to get a grant. Grants come from a few different places, and we will break those down for you here.
Federal Pell Grant
These are easy grants that you may get awarded just by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This is why you need the previous year’s tax returns when filling out this application, something that was always confusing to students I dealt with. The government is who delegates the student loan money and grant money out, and they use the FAFSA to determine your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Once you fill out the FAFSA entirely, you will get a Student Aid Report (SAR) and an EFC at the end. This is a score that is used to determine your family’s financial strength and is based on income, cost of school, assets, household size and number of family members that attend college. The lower the EFC, the greater the chance you have of getting easy grants in the form of the Pell Grant. Now, it is important to remember that this is not ‘free money.’ You are required to finish a certain part of your program or you will have what is called a Pell Overpayment and you will actually be required to pay the Pell Grant back to the government.
Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants (FSEOG)
The FSEOG is a program of easy grants designed for people with the most financial need. All you need to do to see if you apply for these easy grants is fill out the FAFSA. If you are awarded one of these grants, you can expect to see awards that vary from $100 to $4000.
For more info, see FSEOG.
Each state has different programs for easy grants for school. For example, Pennsylvania has a state grant program but you have to fill out the FAFSA and send in a state grant application form. You can find these forms online in many situations, but sometimes you will have to go to your school’s financial aid office to get access to the forms for these easy grants. There are a lot of people applying for these grants, and a set amount of money allotted each year for them, so it is best to apply early.
California Students see: Cal Grant
New York Students see: NY Tuition Assistance Program
Imagine my surprise in my last year of college to find out that my measly waiter salary afforded me some easy grants for school. Granted, this is because I was on the ‘extended Bachelor’s degree plan’ meaning it took me six years to get a four-year degree, and in my last year I was considered an independent student in financial aid terms. Therefore, I received a small Pell Grant, a state grant, and a grant from my institution. My last semester of school was practically free, and all I had to do for these easy grants was fill out the FAFSA.
Easy grants are there if you apply early, have a strong financial need, and apply using the FAFSA. It is always nice to get ‘free money’ for school, and this is certainly money you do not need to pay back if you complete your courses. The best part is, you can receive this money year after year if you continue to apply and you do not have to do complicated essays or applications like you do for random scholarships. Do not ever say, “I do not have enough money to go to college.” Where there is a will, there is a way, and there are a lot of resources out there for people with financial situations that are not the best.