Many American college students need some type of financial assistance to pay for college. A number of grants are available to students interested in pursuing a higher education, and applications for these grants are available in many places.
Federal Pell Grant
A Pell Grant is a need-based grant that helps cover the costs of tuition and books. You can obtain an application for a Pell Grant from your school's guidance office or career center or fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) online. For the 2009-2010 school year, a full-time college student could receive up to $5,350 to help fund her education, and the money doesn't have to be repaid. You must reapply for a Pell Grant each year.
Some states offer grants that pay for portions of tuition a Pell Grant might not cover. An example of this is the New York State Tuition Assistance Program (TAP), which offers grants to students attending state schools in New York. Students in New York State whose information on the FASFA indicates they might be eligible for TAP are sent an application.
Academic Competitiveness Grant
Students who are in their first and second year of college and who qualify for Pell Grants also might qualify for an Academic Competitiveness Grant. This grant is given to students who have proved themselves academically and who show leadership skills. Students receiving an Academic Competitiveness Grant must be enrolled in an approved program of study and maintain at least a 3.0 grade point average. The FASFA serves as an application for this grant.
National Science and Mathematics Grants
College juniors and seniors who qualify for Pell Grants might also qualify for a National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant. This grant is given to students who are studying computer science, math, any of the sciences or engineering. A typical award for this grant is about $4,000. Students receiving this grant must be enrolled in an approved program of study and have a grade point average of at least 3.0. Filing the FASFA automatically puts a student into consideration for this grant.
Other Types of Grants
Other types of grants are offered to college students through the university they are attending or through the community. Demographic-based grants may be offered to African-American, Asian, Indian or female students. Subject-based grants are available to students as well, particularly those enrolled in specific degree programs. Applications for these types of grants may be obtained through high school guidance offices or financial-aid offices of universities.