Available at several levels of public administration, including federal, state, regional, county and municipal, government grants for college form the one stream of post-secondary funding that is entirely equal opportunity. All citizens and permanent residents of the United States may qualify for some type of government grants for college, university or vocational school. Because education means the difference between success and poverty for most Americans, especially women, the government is actually helping itself by helping you to obtain a college degree or other sort of higher education. A educated nation is a wealthy nation.

Government grants for college do not discriminate on any basis, but they do favor, for obvious reasons, those students who have goals to obtain a college or university degree, but insufficient access to money that will cover the cost. Once a student leaves the public school system in America after grade 12, there is no “free ride”. Paid public education stops there and any post-secondary studies involve costs such as:

• Tuition for courses and programs.
• Lab fees for courses such as biology and other sciences.
• Tools to enable the student to complete his or her work, such as laptop computers, binder, notebooks and writing implements.
• Cost of living in residence or off-campus in student housing.
• Transportation to and from campus.
• Supplies such as artists’ materials for fine arts courses.
• Food and other miscellaneous costs, including fees for field trips and special lectures.

This really adds up, and when you consider that a normal bachelor degree consumes at least three, more likely four, years, the cumulative cost can be lofty. And if you plan to go all the way to a doctoral degree, at present costs that could run between $150,000 and $185,000 for the eight years of university required. Popular influences affect the applications for university applications, and thanks to the huge popularity of television sitcoms like “The Big Bang Theory”, more and more students in their senior year of high school or freshman year of university have a hankering to obtain at least a master’s degree if not a Ph.D.

There are several ways to fund your ambitions to obtain an under-graduate or post-graduate degree through government grants for college. Of course, there are always student loans, but they have to be repaid at some point. If your family cannot afford to put you through university, then grants are the way to go because they are gifts and do not involve repayment.

Because several levels of government have systems in place for grants for college, it’s hard to know where to start. The simple answer is: start at the top and work your way down. The first thing you need you do is complete an application through the same system used to obtain student loans, the Federal Student Aid Office (FAFSA). There is a section of the FAFSA application for grants, as opposed to loans, and that’s where to place your focus. If you and your family are financially underprivileged, you may qualify for a needs-based government grant for college, such as a federal Pell Grant. You’ll have to be able to prove your need, but the grants tend to be fairly generous (around $5,500 per year per student), and will cover most, if not all, of your annual costs to attend college or university.

Don’t be afraid to apply to more than one government body that offers college grants. Simultaneous applications will not only hedge your odds of succeeding in obtaining a government grant for college that leads to a degree, but it will also, where information is shared, demonstrate that you are serious about continuing your education and making something of your future.

Once you have applied for federal grants, then aim at state-level grants, and work your way down to regional and local grants. You may be surprised at what is available on the local level. Businesses seeking to fill voids in qualified personnel often create grants for students in their immediate area, and even charities at the local level sometimes have college grants thanks to generous benefactors. Local government grants are far less common than federal, state and regional government grants for college. If you are having difficulty finding information on government grants for college, check with the guidance office at your high school or the student finance office at the university, vocational school or college you hope to attend after high school.

The major difference between government grants for college and scholarships is that government granting bodies have a mandate to level the playing field. They are in place in order to ensure everyone with the determination to get ahead can, to remove financial obstacles and allow anyone the chance to get a degree and make a better life for themselves, no matter how humble their roots may be. Because of this mandate, almost all government grants for colleges are needs-based and have little, if anything, to do with achievement. So, yes, this means if you didn’t get the top grades all through high school, you may still be able to obtain a grant for vocational school, college or university. Regardless, make it your policy to do your level best all the way through school. That way, if you are unable to qualify for a government grant for college, you may be able to get a scholarship.

Government grants for college mean that you and everyone has the opportunity to obtain a degree no matter what your financial situation may be. Special grants exits for other people with mitigating circumstances such as gender, visible minority status, native American Indian status, and those with physical disabilities. Government grants for college mean that no one with the desire to get ahead in life, and the strength to carry it through, will be left behind those who have the means. Start early in your investigation of potential government grants for college to ensure that you know which grants you may be eligible for and to give you ample time to prepare an accurate, compelling application.

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