How do I Apply for Grants for College?

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  • Written By: Jessica Ellis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 10 February 2020
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A grant is a gift of money given by a non-profit organization or government. It is possible to apply for grants for college in order to defray the cost of attendance and living expenses. In order to apply for grants for college, a student must usually submit financial information or a proposal explaining how the grant money would be used. Grants are highly competitive, but can help fund an education without requiring a student to resort to loans for tuition.

One of the most common United States-based grants is the Pell Grant. This annual grant is given by the government to qualifying students that meet financial need requirements. Students who fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) are automatically in consideration for a Pell Grant. This makes it one of the easiest grants to apply for, as well as one of the easier ones to receive.

In order to apply for grants for college, it may be best to start by examining government-sponsored opportunities, such as the Pell Grant. Most governments with a department of education will have a website that details all available grants. This can be a great base of operations for determining the best grant programs for an individual student. Some government websites may allow a single application to serve as a submission for all grants, while others may require a separate application for each grant program.


Grant programs typically have an individual set of criteria to determine eligibility; unlike scholarships, however, most grants are given based on how the student plans to use the money, rather than what pre-existing qualifications he or she possesses. One common way a person can apply for grants for college is by submitting a grant proposal. This is a detailed statement explaining how the money will be used, and may be several pages long. In many cases, a student will explain his or her education plan, career goals, and the significance of a college education to that plan.

Some grants help fund specific research or learning projects, and may do so by providing tuition money so that the student can pursue a research goal. In order to apply for grants for college based on specific projects, the grant proposal will usually include a precise and in-depth description of the project and how the funding will be applied to it. In some cases, the goal is simple, such as covering tuition costs in order to pursue a career in special education. In others, the goal may be quite complex, such as covering wages and research facility time, as well as tuition, in order to conduct important drug research. A grant proposal may contain detailed budget breakdowns, research aims, and demonstrate financial need for a worthy goal.



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