If you’re thinking about going back to college through a distance learning program to earn a higher degree but you aren’t sure how to pay for it then you should seriously consider applying for a federal grant. The reason for applying this is simple; grants are essentially free money given out by the government for the express intent of helping serious students pay for their education.
Not only is it free money but there is a lot of it available. Every year the US Department of Education gives out around 67 billion dollars to millions of students in the form of grants, loans, and other types of financial aid. But unlike loans federal grants do not need to be paid back.
The idea behind the grant system is to give people a chance to earn a higher degree when they might not have been able to attend a distance learning college because of financial limitations. The grant system is largely based on financial need but all applicants also need to show that they are serious about obtaining that degree. People who are not serious about their education need not apply.
There are a variety of different grants that a student can apply for. The most well known are the Federal Pell Grants. The amount a student will receive will depend on whether or not they are full-time or part-time students. For 2011-2012 the maximums have been set at $5,550 for full-time and $2,775 for part-time attendance. There are other factors that can determine how much a student gets that may include the cost of tuition and financial need.
There are also campus-based grant programs that are administered by each universities financial aid office. Two such programs are the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) and the Federal Work Study (FWS) programs. Each schools financial aid office is responsible for distributing the funds from these programs to the students they feel deserve grant assistance.
To be eligible for any educational government grant you will need to have at the least either a high school diploma or a GED certificate (General Education Development). You can also take and pass a test that meets certain Department of Education criteria to qualify for these aid assistance programs. You also need to be a U.S. citizen or qualified non-citizen with a valid social security number. U.S. citizens also need to be registered with the Selective Service.
When applying for any federal aid assistance program the first thing a student needs to do is submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid otherwise known as the FAFSA. The FAFSA website will guide you through the application process. You can find it at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov. Completing this application will help determine what grants, loans, and scholarships a student may be eligible for and how much they can receive. In many cases private grant foundations require a FAFSA be completed before determining grant recipients.
The best place to get help when looking for government grants to help pay for a distance learning program is the financial aid office of the college or university the student will be attending. A good financial aid officer will get the student pointed in the right direction, help them identify grants and financial aid opportunities, and navigate them through the application process.