Your Guide To Student Grants For College

Everything you need to know about college grants.

As you’re trying to decide where to go to college, one factor tends to outweigh the others: cost of attendance. College tuition is still rising making it increasingly difficult for students to have access to higher education. And while there are scholarships available, they’re usually incredibly competitive and/or don’t help much.

That’s where college grants come in to help bridge the gap. We’ve broken down everything you need to know about college grants: how to apply for them, the types available, and which one will help you the most.

What are college grants?

College grants are forms of funding provided by the federal government for higher education purposes. It’s a form of financial aid that doesn’t have to be repaid, unlike a student loan. There are four main types of federal college grants, which are:

  • Pell Grants
  • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG)
  • Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grants
  • Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants

How do college grants work?

College grants are generally awarded to students who demonstrate financial need. Once you fill out the FAFSA, your college or degree program will notify you of your eligibility when it comes to the different types of grants available.

In most cases, grants do not need to be repaid. However, there may be certain eligibility requirements you need to maintain in order to receive funding. You also need to fill out the FAFSA every year you plan to receive aid.

Types Of College Grants

Federal Pell Grants

Federal Pell Grants are only awarded to undergraduate students who display exceptional financial need. They cannot already have a bachelor’s, graduate, or professional degree. In some cases, Federal Pell Grants are also awarded to those who are confined or incarcerated and enrolled in a Prison Education Program.

It’s important to note you cannot receive Federal Pell Grant funds from multiple schools at the same time.

While the amount of money allocated for Federal Pell Grants varies year to year, here is what it looked like the past few school years:

  • 2023-2024 Award Year: maximum amount of $7,395
  • 2024-2025 Award Year: maximum amount of $7,395

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG)

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG) are administered by the financial aid office at each college directly. Not every school participates in the FSEOG program. To apply for the FSEOG, simply fill out the FAFSA. The FSEOG will go to the students who demonstrate the most need.

Depending on your financial need, students are eligible to receive anywhere between $100 to $4,000 per year.

Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants

Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants are for students who are not eligible for a Federal Pell Grant due to the Expected Family Contribution but meet the following requirements:

  • Meet the remaining Federal Pell Grant eligibility requirements
  • Your parent or guardian was a member of the U.S. armed forces and died as a result of military service performed in Iraq or Afghanistan after the events of 9/11
  • You were under 24 years old or enrolled in college at least part-time at the time of your parent or guardian’s death

To apply for the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant, simply fill out the FAFSA.

The amount for the grant is the same as the Federal Pell Grant ($7,395) but cannot exceed the cost of attendance at your college.

Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grants

The Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant is different from other grants in that it requires you to complete a teaching service obligation to receive the grant. If you fail to complete the teaching service obligation, the grant will then be treated as a loan you must repay.

To be eligible for a TEACH Grant, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Meet the basic eligibility criteria for the federal student aid programs
  • Complete the FAFSA
  • Be enrolled at a school that participates in the TEACH Grant program
  • Be enrolled in a TEACH-Grant-eligible program
  • Meet a certain academic achievement requirement (generally, scoring above the 75th percentile on one or more portions of a college admissions test or maintaining a cumulative GPA of at least 3.25)
  • Receive TEACH Grant counseling that explains the requirements of the TEACH Grant service obligation every year you receive the TEACH Grant
  • Sign a TEACH Grant Agreement to Serve or Repay

The TEACH Grant program provides up to $4,000 a year to students who are completing or plan to complete the requirements needed to begin a career in teaching.

How To Get A College Grant

In most cases, only students who demonstrate a certain level of financial need are eligible for college grants, unlike other forms of tuition assistance like scholarships.

According to the Federal Student Aid website, financial need is, “The difference between the cost of attendance (COA) at a school and your Expected Family Contribution (EFC).”

How To Apply For College Grants

The first step in applying for college grants is filling out the FAFSA. Once you’ve done that, be sure to check out the various requirements of each type of grant. If you meet the various requirements listed, you’ll automatically receive the grant.

College Grants V. Scholarships

College grants and scholarships are not the same thing. While both are forms of financial aid, there are key differences between the two.

Scholarships:

  • Form of financial aid that doesn’t have to be repaid
  • Given to students based on one of two categories: merit or need
  • Awarded for the duration of college study or one-time award

Grants:

  • Form of financial aid that doesn’t have to be repaid
  • Given to students who demonstrate financial need
  • Awarded for the duration of college study

Colleges With The Best Financial Aid

Wondering which schools help out their students with tuition the most? Here are the top 10 schools with the best financial aid, along with how much they give out.

10. Colgate University

  • Average financial aid package: $49,912
  • Average cost of attendance: $51,955

9. University of Chicago

  • Average financial aid package: $49,967
  • Average cost of attendance: $52,491

8. Duke University

  • Average financial aid package: $50,312
  • Average cost of attendance: $51,256

7. Webb Institute

  • Average financial aid package: $50,710
  • Average cost of attendance: $48,755

6. Vassar College

  • Average financial aid package: $50,820
  • Average cost of attendance: $53,090

5. Harvard University

  • Average financial aid package: $51,308
  • Average cost of attendance: $47,074

4. Amherst College

  • Average financial aid package: $51,775
  • Average cost of attendance: $52,476

3. Williams College

  • Average financial aid package: $51,890
  • Average cost of attendance: $51,790

2. Yale University

  • Average financial aid package: $52,894
  • Average cost of attendance: $49,480

1. Columbia University

  • Average financial aid package: $55,521
  • Average cost of attendance: $55,056

Frequently Asked Questions About College Grants

Do you have to repay college grants?

The wonderful thing about getting a college grant is that you do not have to repay it! There are, however, very select instances when you may need to repay a college grant:

  • You withdrew early from the program for which you received the grant
  • Your enrollment status changed in a way that reduced your eligibility for your grant (i.e. switching from a full-time to a part-time student)
  • You received outside scholarships or grants that reduced your need for federal aid
  • You received the TEACH Grant but did not meet the requirements of the TEACH Grant service obligation
  • You received Federal Pell Grant funds from more than one school at a time