A grant is a financial award given for higher education expenses that does not need to be paid back. It is essentially a financial gift to help pay for college. This is a more attractive option than a student loan for obvious reasons, but is also harder to come by. However, you would be foolish to not look at opportunities for grant funding when considering how to pay for your time as a finance major.

The most common grant awarded in the United States is the Pell Grant, for financially challenged students. When you submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which virtually all undergraduate colleges and universities strongly encourage you to do prior to enrollment, you are automatically considered for eligibility, as it serves as the official Pell Grant application. In addition, in most cases, you will need to complete a FAFSA to be considered for any other grants awarded by your college or university, or grants sponsored by your state of residence.

Grants have a wide variety of eligibility criteria. The most popular criteria include previous service in the United States armed forces, ethnic minority status, athletic ability, talent in the arts, and commitment to a particular field of study.

Other grants for special circumstances include:

  • Survivors of illness. College grants are awarded by the Meningitis Trust Foundation, the Komen Foundation, and the Cancer Survivors Society, among many others.
  • Children of military personnel. Being the son or daughter of a member of the Armed Forces may qualify you for some grants. The Military Order of the Purple Heart's award is for dependents of Purple Heart recipients, for instance.
  • Membership in a particular religious affiliation. The Aid Association for Lutherans offers grants to members of the Lutheran denomination; likewise for the American Baptist Church National Ministries. Ask your pastor or minister to inquire on your behalf.
  • Special talents. Most people know about NCAA scholarships, but state-based sports grants are also available, as well as grants from lesser known organizations, such as the National Strength Conditioning Association. Grants are also available for painters, film makers, videographers, writers, mathematicians, musicians, photographers, and many others. Chances are there is a grant available for your talent or hobby. You just have to take the time to find it, but it could be well worth the effort.
  • Specific studies. Grants are sometimes available for very specific studies, such as caricature and cartoons, African studies, or nonprofit sector research.
  • Industry grants. If you know what you want to study, check industries that employ in your field to see if they offer grants. Some may even offer internships or jobs with the company that supplies financial aid. Industries that sponsor grants for students interested in working in their areas of expertise include agriculture, theater, parks and recreation, accounting, insurance, engineering, hotel management, and journalism.

There are alternatives to a mountain of student loan debt. It may require more time and effort on your part on the front end, but a reduction or elimination of debt at the completion of your degree will make it well worth that investment.

For more information, is a good place to start.

Last Updated: 06/08/2014


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