Going to college is getting more expensive each year, and more students are struggling to find alternate ways to fund their college education to avoid mounting loan balances. Grants give you the opportunity to pay for your education without having to pay a lender back. These resources can help you find unique grants that apply to your field of study, cultural background, or even beliefs and hobbies.
Federal grants, including the Pell Grant, tend to be easiest to obtain because they are awarded based on information found on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Unless you plan on paying for college completely by yourself without assistance, you will probably be filing a FAFSA each academic year. Grants that are awarded by the federal government are typically need-based, meaning that they are awarded based on demonstrated financial need. If your income or your parents’ income is deemed to be insufficient to reasonably cover tuition costs and other school-related fees, it is likely that you will receive some grant money. Keep in mind that filling out the FAFSA as early as possible each year makes it more likely that you’ll get a grant.
Despite its title, the College Scholarships site also includes a large listing of academic grants. The purpose of the website is to connect students with funding options for school that do not have to be repaid, so grants and scholarships are both highlighted.
A benefit of using the website to find grants is the fact that there are numerous categories you can navigate to in order to find grants that apply to your situation. If you suffer from a lifelong illness or have survived a potentially-fatal disease, you can find grants that are sponsored by organizations working to raise awareness about the condition. There are grants for women, single parents or people of particular ethnic backgrounds, which are intended to help people in these minority groups pursue an education.
You can also search for grants according to your area of study. Whether you are studying to become a mathematician, an artist or a journalist, there are grants available for you.
Like federal grants, state grants are awarded based on need and are calculated according to the information that you provide in the FAFSA. Each state has its own department of higher education that oversees the awarding of grants. The applicable state may be the state in which you are attending school or the state of your residency, so you may want to verify your eligibility status if you have not been awarded a state grant after filing the FAFSA.
Global Studies Grants
If your goal is to travel the world as you work on getting a college education, grants from the Global Studies Foundation are designed to help you study abroad. Travel can be expensive, even when your academic institution is taking care of the travel arrangements. When you are responsible for costs like airfare, ground transportation and meals, a grant from the Global Studies Foundation can fill in the gaps that are preventing you from accepting an opportunity to study abroad.
Connecting with the most unusual grant opportunities may make the difference between paying for college now and making payments on student loans for the long term. College XPress maintains a list of the weirdest grants out there, in order to make sure that you are taking advantage of all of your opportunities when it comes to funding a college education. Examples from this quirky list include grants for tall men and women, people who make clothes out of duct tape, bowlers, and Catholics with the last name of Zolp.
Here is another resource that guides you to the weirdest and most unusual college grant opportunities out there. If you don’t use websites like Yes College and College XPress, there is a chance that you could be missing out on money that is available to you just for being who you are. Unusual examples from Yes College include grants from Jif — yes, the peanut butter company — that awards $25,000 for the person with the best unique sandwich recipe. There’s also a scholarship from the National Potato Council that is given to students who show promise when it comes to potato research. Your off-the-wall interests could land you serious cash for school.
If you have yet to find a grant that fits your situation, you may want to make a list of what makes you unique. What issues are you passionate about? What kind of background do you have? Were you active in extracurricular activities during high school? Everyone has grant opportunities that they can apply for, but many people are unaware of what is out there. Use the resources outlined here to fund your education, or even help pay for the opportunity to study abroad for a semester or more.
Allianz Tuition Insurance lets you protect your investment in your future that isn’t covered by a grant. Tuition insurance gives you the opportunity to recoup the money you put toward your education if you are unable to finish out the semester due to a covered physical or mental illness. Without insurance, a tuition refund from your college or university is typically drastically reduced according to the date of withdrawal. With tuition rates climbing, insuring your biggest investment makes sense.