Student Advice

How to Apply for College and University Grants
Student Advisor posted on April 10, 2017 |

As with scholarships, college grants award students money that does not need to be repaid, vastly reducing tuition costs. With an increasing number of engineering students pursuing post-graduate studies, there are a wide range of grants they may be eligible for.

College grant applications needn’t be daunting, however. Conducting comprehensive research, determining eligibility and applying early will all increase the chances of securing funding. Amounts awarded can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars, and can play a vital role in keeping student loans to a minimum.

Getting Started

An application for college grants starts off with completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA will calculate your family income and help you determine which government, state and institutional grants you can be considered for, along with the relevant deadlines for each. You will quickly learn there are a variety of funding sources available, many of which are evaluated and decided upon as and when applications come. This highlights the need to get your college grant applications in early.

Knowing Your Options

Just like scholarships, college grants fall into a wide range of categories.  

Grants are often need-based, whereby the student’s and their parent’s finances are taken into account. Low-income applicants are eligible for the largest amount of federal funding. This includes the Pell Grant, for example, which is awarded to those whose family income is below $20,000. Students with a household income of around $50,000 are also eligible for need-based funding.

Most colleges also offer financial assistance to low-income students, as well awarding funds based on merit. At the state level, college grants can be offered based on anything from a student’s race or ethnicity, to their area of study and career path. Students pursuing a degree in a high-demand field are also often eligible for state funding.

Other Grants

There are other funding sources available to students outside of the federal, state and collegiate level. Private organizations and not-for-profit groups offer a wide variety of college grants, even rewarding students who have hobbies in unique fields. In addition, professionals headed to graduate school as part of their jobs can also find funding opportunities tailored to them, which is particularly relevant in the engineering field. You can identify the right graduate program for you through a graduate school degree finder.

As these examples indicate, there are a host of funding sources available when looking to apply for college grants. Conducting thorough research will open more pathways to funding, helping students save a lot of money in the long run.

Tips for Writing College Grant Applications

There are many good habits that will improve your odds of a successful college grant application. These include paying attention to the minor details of each submission, as well as avoiding rushed efforts that could prompt admissions officers to turn your application away.

For one, don’t blindly apply to every funding opportunity encountered. College grant application fatigue will quickly kick in. Paying attention to the details of each application will help to identify which ones you are ideally suited for, and which aren’t worth pursuing.

Once you have a short list of grants, it’s vital that each application is treated individually. Whether submitting essays or personal statements, tailoring them according to the requirements of every grant will boost your chances of catching the reviewers’ attention. Using the same version for every grant will not suffice, as reviewers are trained to pick up on one-size-fits-all applications.

Finally, be aware that leaving your application the last minute will only set you up for failure. There will often be a wide variety of material to assemble before submitting, and getting things in order early will ease the pressure. Submitting a college grant application barely on deadline could also send a bad message to the source from which you are seeking funding. Remember, you only have one chance to make a first impression.