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Which free grants for college does the federal government offer?

Before I can apply for federal loans, I would first like to know more about educational grants for students and if I’m eligible to apply. I’m from a middle-income home where one parent is employed while the other runs a small retail business.

I’m the firstborn, and though my parents had started saving for my higher education early, the money cannot cover the four years I will be enrolled in college. So, I’m considering grants for undergraduate students.

Which free grants for college by the federal government should I apply?

Rodney Fox

in Student Loans

1 answer

1 answer

Aaron Lee on June 5, 2018

An educational grant for students is money set aside by the government to assist students in various levels of schooling with their learning expenses. Grants may partially or fully cover the cost of tuition and are usually awarded in line with specified criteria. The federal government is a key player in American tertiary education, and one way it is involved is by providing financial assistance to students joining or already enrolled in college.

There are grants that your college receives from our Federal government that help to pay for institutional and program costs. However, though you benefit from such funding indirectly, it is futile to expect these monies to help you with your tuition.

Therefore, your attention should be on free college grants that come directly to you as the student. Though grants may come from any source, the federal government is the biggest sponsor of direct grants to students.

Broadly, we can classify student grants into:

  • Need-based: these grants are specially set aside for students undergoing great financial hardships. Students from economically underprivileged backgrounds are awarded this type of grants.
  • Merit-based: these grants are awarded to students with excellent grades and other non-educational achievements.

Grants mainly target the following groups in the society:

  • Students from foster care
  • Minority groups
  • Students in specific fields
  • Students with special needs/disabilities
  • National Guard and Veterans

Here are some suggestions for undergraduate students grants from the federal government:

The Pell Grant

This grant program is the most significant provider of financial aid to college students in the form of grants. It is a need-based initiative for funding assistance by the federal government to undergraduate students who demonstrate the need for tuition assistance. Eligibility for this grant, as for any other federal student aid program, is determined by the FAFSA form. Selection is on a yearly basis.

If you are approved for a Pell Grant, the amount you receive is determined by:

  • Your financial need after deduction expected amount in family contribution.
  • Your enrollment status, i.e., are you studying part-time, half-time or full-time?
  • The total cost of attending college.
  • The span of enrollment for your degree program.


This campus-based grant is available for the most financially needy students.


For low-income students in their third and fourth year in college.

Academic Competitiveness Grant

This grant is a hybrid as it requires both a demonstration of need and academic rigorousness. It funds first and second-year college tuition. 

Tad Frazier2 years ago

There are several other federal free grants for college that are career-based. If you intend to venture into the teaching or medical profession, you might want to apply for these special grants as they are low competition grants. Though this money is free, you will need to give back to the society by providing service after you graduate.

Additionally, there are those grants not under the federal government. These include state grants, institutional grants, and grants from private organizations. It is proper to do extensive research to determine funding opportunities available to you.

However, there are more opportunities for college funding out there. Remember that grants are very competitive and the chance of securing this free funding is not guaranteed. Therefore, I would advise you also to consider federal loans. They are less competitive, have higher amount limits, and you can apply together with the grant in a single FAFSA form. 

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