For students working on their degree online, grants are an excellent financial opportunity, especially if it is a first Bachelor’s degree. Grant money is given outright to students and is not expected to be repaid. However, grant money is usually only distributed to those with the greatest financial need or who are planning to work in fields where practitioners are in short supply. Applying for grants is typically a similar process to applying for student loans. You will need to stay organized, fully complete important forms, and pay close attention to deadlines.
The first step you should take is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (or FAFSA) form either online or on paper. Take advantage of the free help available at this government website or through your educational institution. There are plenty of services online to help you complete this application for a fee, but you do not necessarily need to pay someone to help you. The earliest you can submit this application is January 1 of each year and the latest you probably want to submit it is March 1, as this is the deadline for much of the government assistance. After submitting your completed FAFSA, the U.S. Department of Education will process your application and mail you a copy of your Student Aid Report. At this time, you can discover what grants are available for you.
Some of the available grants may include the following: the Federal Pell Grant is offered to undergraduates who have never earned a Bachelor’s degree and are in financial need of assistance; the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant is awarded to those with the most severe financial need; the Academic Competitiveness Grant goes to students who qualify for the Pell Grant and also graduated from an academically rigorous high school program; the TEACH Grant which is awarded to those studying to teach in a high-needs school serving low-income students; and the National SMART Grant is awarded to students who qualify for a Pell grant and are studying math, science, computer science, or foreign language considered crucial to national security. In addition to government grants, you may also find grants awarded from your educational institution. While most grants are provided for undergraduate study, there are a few graduate degree grants available as well. While the competition for grant money is tough, organization and perseverance can help you find money that may be available for your online education.