By Shalena Gonzales
Financial Aid Specialist, American Public University
It is important to take advantage of all beneficial resources to assist in paying for college expenses. Financial aid money that doesn’t have to be repaid, such as grants, are the most beneficial types of financial aid that you can receive. Grants are often called “gifted aid” because it is free money. These grants are often need-based, which means it is awarded to students based on their financial need. On occasions a grant may have to be paid back if you withdrew from school before finishing an enrollment period.
The U.S. Department of Education offers a variety of federal grants to students attending four-year colleges or universities, community colleges, and career schools. The major federal student aid grant programs include:
- Federal Pell Grant– Generally awarded to undergraduate students who are financially needy and who have not earned a bachelor’s or graduate degree.
- Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)– Awarded to undergraduate students who have exceptional financial need and who have not earned a bachelor’s or graduate degree. Not all colleges participate in the FSEOG program
- Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant– For undergraduate, post baccalaureate, or graduate students who are or will be taking coursework necessary to become elementary or secondary teachers
- Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant — For students whose parent or guardian was a member of the U.S. armed forces and died as a result of performing military service in Iraq or Afghanistan after the events of 9/11
(Information retrieved from Federal Student Grant Programs| Federal Student Aid)
Aside from the basic requirements you must meet to be eligible to receive federal student aid, there are also additional requirements that must be met in order to receive certain grants. For example with the TEACH grant, students must meet certain academic achievement requirements and agree to serve a minimum of four years as a full-time teacher in a high-need field. If the student fails to complete the teaching service commitment will result in the grant funds being converted to a Direct Unsubsidized Loan that must be repaid. For more information on the TEACH Grant you may go to www.teachgrant.ed.gov.
The Iraq Afghanistan Service Grant also has additional requirements such as the student must be ineligible for Federal Pell Grant due to having less financial need than is required to receive Pell funds. Also they must have been less than 24 years old or enrolled at least part-time at an institution of higher education at the time of the parent’s or guardian’s death. More information about these grants can be found at Grants and Scholarships | Federal Student Aid .