Private education grants are gifts of money made from private organizations to students. Unlike loans, private education grants are not repaid to the organization, although some may require state or federal taxes to be paid. Private education grants differ from public grants in that they are not offered by the state or by the school itself; instead, most rely on funding from private sources, such as donations, endowments, or company profits.
Many private education grants offer need-based availability. To receive consideration for a need-based grant, applicants usually must complete an application that includes financial disclosure. Many grant foundations also require an essay or personal statement that details the student’s financial situation, personal history, and intended use of the awarded funds.
Another common category for private education grants are those that are merit-based. Applicants supply information about successes, community service, academic performance, and career goals. Letters of recommendation from professors, community leaders, and professional contacts are also a common component of the application process. Similar to need-based grants, essays or personal statements are usually required by the grant foundation. Competition for merit-based grants is often extremely intense, as there are often a great many highly accomplished students all fighting for the same award.
In addition to merit- and need-based grants, many private education grants are awarded based on circumstances of the student. For instance, some grants are available only to applicants of certain races, national origins, or those with certain mental or physical disabilities. Other grants are in the self-interest of the organization; for instance, a science-based foundation may award grants to students planning to have a career in science.
The amount of a private grant is set by the private foundation. While some offer a set amount of funds to be awarded, others will cover the tuition of the recipient’s intended school. Some grants are awarded to partially or fully fund specific projects, such as short films made by the recipient as a part of curriculum. Read the financial fine print carefully when applying for private education grants, many have stipulations about how the money is distributed, and for what it may be used.
The Internet is an excellent resource for finding private education grants. A simple search for education grants will turn up thousands of websites with listings for different grant opportunities. Before applying for an education grant, be certain that all basic prerequisites are matched, as there is little point in applying for a grant without qualifying for its initial requirements.