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Understanding the Three Main Types of College Grants

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    Applying for financial grants at your college or university can sometimes feel overwhelming, but a few simple tricks can make the whole process much easier for all involved.

    For starters, you will not be able to apply for any grants before you complete your Free Application for Federal Student Aid, also known as the FAFSA. Once completed, you will then be able to apply for one or more grants.

    The most well known grant is the federal Pell Grant. This is a needs based grant that is granted to predominately undergraduate students attending a college or university that is recognized by the federal government. The grant amount is dependent on your financial need, the cost of the college or university you are attending, whether you are a full or part-time student, and whether you plan to attend for an entire year or less.

    Most states also have a state based grant that can help assist students even further. The requirements for these grants are set at the state level and can vary wildly. These grants are also needs based and dependent on a students or families income, among other factors.

    And lastly, many colleges and universities have grants specific to their school. To apply for these grants you will need to first be accepted to the school and have completed your FAFSA. Each school's admissions or financial aid department will then be able to assist you further.

    As you can see, there is a lot of money out there that can help assist you pay for college if you qualify.

    Has anyone gone through the process of applying for grants before? If so, then what was your experience like? If you haven't yet gone through this process then what are your concerns about moving forward?

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    I'm a former admissions counselor for a college in Illinois and it's amazing how much money is out there if students know what to look and ask for. Federal and state grants help out tremendously, but many colleges have grants available.

    The main difference about school specific grants is that they are often on a first come, first serve basis so it's important to fill our your FAFSA and get the process started as soon as you can. That way you will have a better shot at receiving a school specific grant if you are eligible.

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    Yeah, I went through this process before. Was certainly worth the time and effort. Can be a pain to process everything with the financial aid dept. But it's very helpful, especially the pell grants. I have student loan debt now. But it would be thousands more without that program.

    I highly recommend staying on top of deadlines though, and asking a lot of questions if you are confused about any step in the process. Counselors in my experience are very willing to walk you through everything, if you make an appointment with them first.