Grants to Pay Off Student Loans

So you’re a student at an institution of higher learning, and it is expensive. Naturally, you’re looking for forms of financial aid to relieve some of your monetary burdens.

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There are three main forms that financial aid can take: loans, work-study jobs, and grants. Loans are a form of aid that require you to pay back the money with interest; work-study jobs and grants are money that you can go ahead and keep yourself, which is why grants are sometimes referred to as “gift aid”. A grant differs from a scholarship in that the former is typically need-based, whereas the latter is typically merit-based. This article focuses on grants and the types of grants out there that are available to students.

Sources of student grants:

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Federal Grants

Federal grants may be the simplest and most abundant form of grants given out to students; Federal Student Aid, which operates under the US Department of Education, aims to make college educations for everyone is the largest provider of financial aid and doles out over $150 billion annually in the form of grants, loans, and work study funds.  Of these forms of aid, grants are funds that do not need to be paid back and in most cases can reduce the need to take out loans or even be used to repay loans.


Federal Pell Grants


Who’s eligible? Undergraduates.

Details: Pell Grants are only given to undergraduate students without bachelors or professional degrees, and can sometimes be granted to those enrolled in post-baccalaureate teacher certification programs.

Amount: Maximum of $5,550 for the 2012-2013 cycle, but differs from year to year; depends on:

○        Financial need

○        Tuition fees

○        Student status (i.e. full-time or part-time)

Stipulation: only allowed to receive Pell Grants for 12 semesters


Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)


Who’s eligible? Undergraduates with exceptional financial need.

Details: The FSEOG is given by the financial aid department of each respective university, and is considered “campus-based’ aid.  However, not every university participates in this program.

Amount: $100 – $4000 per year, dependent upon:

○        Financial need

○        Time of application

○        Whether applicant has obtained other aid

○        Fund availability at school

Stipulation: early is better; each school has its own set of deadlines.  Grants must be distributed at least twice a year.


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


Who’s eligible?  Students who take the requisite coursework in a TEACH-Grant eligible program, meet certain academic criteria, and intend on becoming teachers.

Details: Students who receive this grant must agree to teach in a high-need field, at a school that serves low-income families, and teach four complete academic years.

Amount: up to $4000 per year.

Stipulations: All recipients must sign a TEACH Grant Agreement to Service, which means complying with the above requirements.  If the service obligation is not met, TEACH Grant funds will be turned into a direct unsubsidized loan, to be paid back to the US Department of Education, with interest.


Iraq-Afghanistan Service Grant


Who’s eligible? Students who have a parent or guardian whose death was a result of military service in Iraq or Afghanistan

Details: those who were excluded from Federal Pell Grant contention on the basis of Expected Family Contribution, but otherwise are eligible for the Pell Grant

Parent or guardian that died while in service in Iraq are qualifiers for the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant.

Amount: maximum of $5550 in 2012-2013.

Stipulation: parent or guardian was a member of the US armed forces and died as a result of being in Iraq or Afghanistan post-9/11, and the applicant was under 24 years old and enrolled in college at the time of the parents or guardian’s death.


Complete List of State Grants

Each state has its own commission on grants for students, and like federal grants, are usually provided based on the financial needs of applicants.  However, state grants are also given in specialized areas of study, or to specific schools.  Unlike federal grants, which require only a single application, the application procedures for state grants will differ from state to state, as different governmental offices are responsible for grants in their respective states.

Usually, state grants are subject to the following stipulations:

○        being a graduate of a secondary school,

○        being an undergraduate student,

○        being a resident of the respective state

○        being or becoming a citizen of the United States of America,

○        being a full or part-time student

○        being of satisfactory academic standing


Below are some of the more prominent state grants offered in the United States.



○        The Alabama Student Grant Program, the state assistance program for Alabama, has been in action since August 4, 1978.




○        The AlaskAdvantage Education Grant Program provides need-based grants to eligible students attending a post-secondary educational institution.  Some grants are dispensed on the basis of merit (demonstrated by being in the top quartile of SAT or ACT results) and for those enrolled in studies relating to health science, community and social service, teaching, or the extraction of natural resources.



While a number of grants have been suspended for the 2012-2013 academic year have been suspended,  there are still a number of options available to Arizonans:

●       Arizona Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership (AzLEAP) provides need-based grants to low-income, undergraduate, Arizona residents who are attending university in the state of Arizona.  The maximum award is $2,500, but on average $1000 is awarded.


●       Arizona College Access Aid Program (ACAAP) is the most recent student grant program is aimed at sophomores, juniors, and seniors that are also eligible for the Pell Grant.  Awards are given out on a first-come, first-served basis, and the maximum award amount is $2,000.




The Arkansas Department of Higher Education has a number of grants available to students:

●       Arkansas Health Education Grant (ARHEG) provides assistance to students who are pursuing professional training in certain medicine, dentistry, and optometry, and allows recipients to pursue their education out of state.

●       Higher Education Opportunities Grant (GO! Opportunities Grant) gives $1000 to full-time students and $500 to part-time students, based on their financial need, and is only given to applicants that are Arkansas residents at least 12 months prior to applying.

●       Workforce Improvement Grant gives up to $2000 annually to full and part-time students that are 24 years old and above based on their financial need
Link (all 3):



Cal Grants are awarded by the Cal Grant Program, and are awarded based on the school, financial need, cost of attendance, and enrollment status.




Like most states, Colorado awards its student grants based on need.  In this case, there are two main grants, the Colorado Student Grant and the Colorado Graduate Grant.




There are several options for students in Connecticut:

●       CT Independent College Student Grant Program, which is awarded to students attending an eligible independent college or university up to $8,166 a year, based on their financial need.

●       CT Minority Teacher Incentive, which is awarded to a college junior or senior attending a CT college or university teacher preparation program.  The grants gives up to $5000 over the course of 2 years and offers to reimburse loans of $2,500 per year for up to 4 years if the recipient teachers at a CT public school.
Link (to both):



Delaware has a number of options that give incentives based on academic performance:

●       Scholarship Incentive Program (ScIP) has a baseline GPA requirement that must be met, is restricted to undergraduate students, and can only be given to those that qualify financially.


●       Government’s Education Grant for Working/Non-Working Adults is funded by the Delaware Economic Development Office and was conceived to help adults gain or improve skills that would allow them to increase their earning potential.  Recipients are eligible to receive as much as $2,000 a year.




●       Access to Better Learning and Education (ABLE) Grant Program is available to Florida residents enrolled in an undergraduate program with at least a 2.0 GPA are eligible to receive an ABLE Grant.


●       First Generation Matching Grant Program is available to those whose parents do not possess a baccalaureate or high degree.


●       Florida Public Postsecondary Career Education Student Assistance Grant Program is available to Florida residents who  are enrolled in certificate programs at public community colleges or career centers.


●       Florida Resident Access Grant Program  is awarded to undergraduates who attend an eligible private non-profit Florida university or college.




●       HOPE Grant Program can be awarded to anyone attending eligible colleges or universities in Georgia, regardless of GPA or graduation dates.


●       Georgia Tuition Equalization Grant Program (GTEG) is a non-need based grant that encourages Georgia residents to attend private colleges.


●       Accel Program is also a non-need based grant that allows high school students to take college level courses


●       Public Safety Memorial Grant is also a non-need based grant that provides for the children of Georgia Public Safety Officers who were either disabled or killed on the job, and the funds must be used towards the cost of attending college or university.


●       North Georgia College and State University ROTC Grant and ROTC Grant for Future Officers is also a non-need based grant that is specific to North Georgia College and State University, with particular focus on the Reserve Officers Training Corps.


●       Georgia’s HOPE GED Grant provides a one-time $500 award for students with a GED



●       Foster Child Grant Program gives recipients up to $6,000 annually for foster children to pursue their education after high school, at institutions throughout the United States.


●       MASSGrant Program is given to eligible students enrolled in an undergraduate program that demonstrate appropriate levels of financial need.


●       Gilbert Matching Student Grant Program gives Massachusetts residents attending institutions of higher education or nursing schools funds that must be used toward their education.


New Jersey

Full list of grants:

●       Tuition Aid Grant (TAG) is awarded to almost one in every three New Jersey undergraduates at participating New Jersey colleges and universities.


●     Educational Opportunity Fund Grant is one of the nation’s most comprehensive and successful state-supported grants for economically and educationally disadvantaged students.


New York

Full list of grants:

●       Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) is New York’s largest grant program, which is granted to those pursuing postsecondary education.  The size of the grant depends on the taxable income of the applicant’s family.


●       Part-time TAP is the same as the TAP, but for part-time students only.


As you can see, there are numerous options when it comes to student grants that can help relieve the financial stress of pursuing higher education.

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