Adults who are entering college may be eligible for special school grants for adults. These particular grants have been earmarked specifically for adults who are also referred to as non-traditional students. Typically, when the term adult is applied to college applicants, it does not refer to people over the age of eighteen. Instead, the word adult refers to people over the age of twenty-four. The term may also serve as an umbrella term for people who are between the ages of eighteen and twenty-four but who meet certain criteria. The exact definition of the word adult is determined by the school grants for adults for which the applicant is applying.

FAFSA

The most common form that grant applicants use is called the FAFSA. It is a free application for federal student aid. This form is readily available online, and it is recognized by every financial department at every school in the United States. Filling out this form can seem long and onerous for many applicants. However, it is well worth the effort. Once this form has been submitted with the proper supporting documentation, it takes about six to eight weeks to process. Once it has been processed, the applicant is notified about the grants and loans for which they are eligible. The loans that are offered are often federally subsidized low-interest loans. The grants, however, are even better. They are free money that never has to be paid back.

The FAFSA offers its applicants grants based on their financial profile. Most applicants are required to submit information about their parent’s financial profile. This requirement prevents some people from receiving grants. However, when an applicant is considered to be an adult by the FAFSA, they do not have to submit any information about their parents. Thus, in most cases, they are more likely to be awarded grants.

FAFSA offers school grants for adults to certain students who are not required to provide any information about their parent’s finances. To be considered an adult or independent student by the FAFSA, applicants must meet at least one of the following criteria:

•    They have turned 24 or older by the last day of the year for which they are applying.
•    Both of their parents have died.
•    They are currently a ward of the state.
•    They were a ward of the state until their eighteenth birthday.
•    They are a veteran from a branch of the United States Armed Forces.
•    They are applying for graduate or professional school.
•    They are married.
•    They have dependents that they claim on their taxes.
•    A financial aid administrator has provided documentation that they are independent due to unusual circumstances.

Grants Based on Subject

In certain cases, it is possible to find grants that are only offered to students who are interested in certain subjects. Typically, these grants are awarded to people who are studying a topic that is in demand. The following is a brief look at some subject specific grants for which applicants can apply. To discover more grants related to their subject area, students should speak with the head of their department.

Some grants are only offered by certain institutions. For instance, the University of Phoenix which is a popular online university recently started offering grants to their adult students through project REACH. These grants are only for people pursuing a master’s in education. To earn one of these grants, an applicant must commit to teaching for at least thirty six months in a high-needs area.

Many grants for adults are only offered to applicants who are pursing a bachelor’s or associate’s degree. However, some of them are reserved for masters or PhD students. For instance, the Hertz foundation offers grants for engineering and physical science PhD candidates. These grants are renewable for five years, and they offer a valuable stipend to cover living expenses.

The U.S. Department of Education also offers adult doctoral candidates grants through their Jacob K. Javits Fellowship program, These grants are renewable for four years, and they are reserved for PhD candidates who are studying in the social sciences, arts, or humanities disciplines.

Computer science and engineering grants are quite common. One of the best ones is for graduate students in this field. The U.S. Department of Energy has a Computer Science Graduate Fellowship. This grant is renewable for four years, and it covers all costs including a $36,000 per year stipend.

Private Organizations

Many private organizations have a great interest in helping adults resume their education. They may be willing to offer scholarships or grants to adults in their community. Some organizations that have been known to offer grants include The Junior League, The Lions Club, and Rotary International. All of these groups and many others are national or international clubs with local chapters who offer charity or grants to eligible applicants. To find out more about these possibilities, applicants can contact the leader in their local community.

Other Grants

It is possible to find school grants for adults that are not offered under the FAFSA or through any publicly visible organizations. For instance, even electric companies in some areas offer small scholarships or grants. In addition, many community organizations offer incentives to get non-traditional students into higher education. Often these particular grants are reserved for applicants who have not yet earned a college degree. Thus, if an applicant already has a degree but would like to get a different one, they may have to find other grant venues. The best way to find out about many of these grants is by talking with the financial advisor at their school. The financial advisor will have a list of grants that are not covered by the FAFSA. Their grants will typically include merit based scholarships as well as need based grants.

More Information on School Grants for Adults

Unfortunately, not all grant information can be found online. To find out about more grants, applicants should visit their local library or the library at the school to which they are applying. These libraries will have a number of books devoted to grants and loans. Some books that pertain to specifically to adults include the following titles:

•    501 Ways for Adults to Pay for College by Gen Tanabe published in 2004
•    The Adult Student’s Guide to Survival by Al Seibert published in 2003
•    New Beginnings by Linda Simon published in 2001

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