How to get grants and scholarships to study at an American college: complete instructions - ForumDaily
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How to get grants and scholarships to study at an American college: complete instructions

College is expensive, and finding grants and scholarships is important for many students. Some of the best offers come from colleges themselves, but not every school offers the same grants and scholarships to every student, reports Money.

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The key is to apply to the right colleges for you. This may seem like looking for a “needle in a haystack.”

Here are some guidelines for finding grants and scholarships for college students, whether you attended a four-year, two-year, or technical program.

Scholarships and grants: how they differ

Scholarships and grants are types of targeted cash grants called “gift aid” in college parlance that do not have to be repaid, unlike student loans. Grants and scholarships come from a variety of agencies and institutions, including the federal government, state governments, colleges and private organizations.

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The big difference between the two is that grants are typically need-based, while scholarships are typically merit- or interest-based. Merit awards are often tied to academic achievement. This means good grades, test scores, or both. But scholarships can be awarded for other things, such as underrepresented education, leadership, music, sports, community service, a specific major or geographic diversity. Sometimes scholarships include a need-based component and students may only be required to apply Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

The key is to read the fine print about eligibility and start applying early.

Types of scholarships

Scholarships come from various places. The two largest sources are government scholarships funded by state governments and institutional college scholarships.

State scholarships

Many states offer scholarships as an incentive for undergraduate students to stay in state for college. The goal is to encourage eligible students to stay after graduation and contribute to the state's workforce, perhaps in a high-need area like healthcare. Some examples: Lottery-funded renewable scholarship Bright futures in Florida, Georgia scholarships Hope and Zell Miller Scholarships, Excelsior Scholarship in New York and Opportunity Scholarship in Washington for specific areas.

Many state scholarships require demonstration of academic achievements in high school, such as a certain GPA, standardized test scores and specific coursework. Even if the scholarship is on a need-based basis, such as the Excelsior program in New York, it may include strict requirements for academic performance while attending college. Many state scholarships are only available at public institutions (community colleges or universities), but some, like the Washington Opportunity Scholarship, can also be applied to private colleges.

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When searching for a scholarship, check out your state's financial aid program и map of higher education agenciesI'm the US Department of Education. Most state scholarships require in-state residency, but not all.

College Scholarships

If you apply to a college that matches your profile, you may be able to receive a renewable scholarship based on good grades, athletics, or special interests. Common types of scholarships include:

  • Academic (for GPA and/or standardized test scores)
  • Geographical diversity (for regional representation)
  • Underrepresented (students of color, first generation, LGTBQ+, etc.)
  • Music, visual arts
  • Leadership, community service
  • Departmental (specialization)
  • Sports type
  • Religious affiliation

Not all colleges offer equally generous scholarships. For example, elite colleges do not offer academic scholarships at all, only need-based financial aid. This is because everyone in these schools are top students. So, if you come from a high-income family and are hoping for a merit scholarship, you won't get it at Ivy League schools, for example. You're better off looking for a college that is known for awarding great scholarships.

That's why it's important to take the time to understand the different types of financial aid that individual colleges offer. Many colleges explain their financial aid policies on their websites.

Private scholarships

Community organizations, nonprofit foundations, and other groups award scholarships for the same qualities that colleges award. These scholarship opportunities start at a couple hundred dollars and increase all the way up to awards that cover most of the cost of tuition. In general, the more money on the table, the more competitive the scholarship program is. Read more about how to find them below.

Types of grants

The three main types of grants come from the federal government, state governments, and colleges. They are given to students in financial need.

Federal grants

The most famous grant is the federal Pell Grant, but the federal government also offers several others for certain demographic groups.

Pell Grant

Maximum Pell grant for 2023–2024 is $7395. Students can and often do qualify for partial Pell Grants. Millions of students a year are eligible for this grant.


The Federal Supplemental Education Grant is for students with special needs and is administered by financial aid offices at participating schools. Not every school does this. FSEOG Grants inrange from $100 to $4000, funds are allocated ahead of schedule. They may run out.

Grant for service in Iraq and Afghanistan

If you are not eligible for a Pell Grant and your parent or guardian died in military service in Iraq or Afghanistan after 11/XNUMX, you may qualify for this grant if you were under 24 years old when he died. The amount is equal to a Pell Grant.


For future teachers, this grant of up to $4000 works a little differently. It requires recipients to be enrolled in an “eligible program of study” at a participating college TEACH grant, and committed to teaching full-time for four years at a high-needs school. If you do not meet the requirements, the grant is converted to a loan.

State Grants

Many states offer one or more need-based grants for resident students. As with state-funded scholarships, the goal is to encourage students to work in the state after graduation. Check programs state financial aid where you live or the state where you want to go to college for the latest news (not all of them require residency). Here are some examples of government grants.

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  • Cal Grant program in California offers three levels, and the amount awarded depends in part on the type of school you plan to attend (including community and technical colleges). Once you submit the FAFSA or CADAA (for students with undocumented status), colleges will determine the amount. Also check out state grants for teachers, law enforcement and military personnel.
  • Texas provides several grants. Three of them are Toward Excellence, Access and Success Grant and Tuition Equalization Grant for private college.
  • Maximum grant Washington State College covers the full cost of in-state public tuition. The money could also fund private Washington colleges or job training programs. If your family of four has an income of $56, then you can claim the entire amount; if up to $000, you receive a partial grant.

College-Based Grants

Typically, college grants are renewed if your income doesn't change much. This can add up to a significant amount of money. Remember those elite colleges? They can open doors by providing need-based grants to eligible students. Even middle-income families can enroll in these colleges. Stanford, for example, recently expanded its financial aid program so that most students from families with incomes under $100 receive tuition, room and board. And several schools, including Princeton and Rice universities, offer full tuition scholarships to families earning up to $000 or $140.

Private grants

Organizations and foundations offer tuition grants in specific fields for underrepresented students and non-traditional students such as mothers returning to college. Please note that many of these are not intended for undergraduate programs, but only for graduate level study.

How to Find College Scholarships and Grants

To receive federal grants, simply complete the FAFSA form. Federal financial aid is a good start, but for most people it is not the primary way to pay for college.

Institutional scholarships and grants are more difficult to find because they depend on your application to colleges that offer money for your academic, financial, or extracurricular profile. This requires research.

To minimize competition for private scholarships and grants, look locally first (national scholarships attract thousands of applicants).

Tips for searching for scholarships and grants:

  • Talk to your high school counselor and search your high school's online scholarships page.
  • Contact the financial aid office of the college you attend. They maintain lists of external scholarships.
  • Research local businesses, organizations, civic or religious groups in your community, and parents' employers, such as Key Club, Lions Club, Rotary Club, and Soroptimist International.
  • Search online for race/ethnicity/nationality-based organizations or groups, or groups geared toward first-generation college students, military families, or special interests. Examples include Golden Door Scholarships, Hispanic Scholarship Fund, and Scholarships LGTBQ+ Human Rights Campaigns.

Some states have dedicated scholarship dashboards. For example, residents of Washington state can use their state's website,

How to Apply for Grants and Scholarships

Grants typically simply require college financial aid forms—the FAFSA and perhaps a CSS profile—while scholarships must meet all requirements.

Some colleges offer automatic scholarships for certain grades and test scores and do not require an additional application. Other college scholarships (and private scholarships) will require a separate application. Possible requirements include:

  • high school diploma and good academic performance;
  • admission to a college program;
  • eligibility for scholarships based on criteria;
  • transcripts, SAT or ACT scores, and letters of recommendation;
  • essay.
  • FAFSA and possibly a CSS Profile for need-based scholarships.

When to Apply for Grants and Scholarships

This fall, the FAFSA will not open until December. Some colleges also use the CSS profile to award institutional grants, and it opens on October 1st. In the states also Individual FAFSA deadlines set, so check yours. This year, colleges and states will stagger deadlines to accommodate the later opening of the FAFSA.

Some colleges offer scholarships with early deadlines—check with the admissions office about them so you don't miss out. Private scholarship deadlines vary greatly, with many private scholarship deadlines being in the spring.

It may sound cliché, but it's never too early or too late to look for scholarships to apply for.

Tips on how to stand out when applying for scholarships

Staying organized isn't easy, but it will help you navigate the application process with much less stress. Keep track of scholarship deadlines and completed applications in a spreadsheet of some kind. Here are some more tips on how to stand out:

  • Start early. In addition to finding scholarships on time, starting early gives you time to present your best work.
  • Ask for letters of recommendation in advance. Give your teachers, coaches, and others enough time so they can do the best job they can.
  • Follow the directions. Make sure you are sending what the application requests.
  • Be honest and sincere. Present yourself as you are, not who you think the scholarship committee wants you to be.
  • Highlight your accomplishments, personal experiences, and unique perspectives.
  • Send thank you notes. We thank the scholarship committee and those who wrote letters of recommendation.

Alternatives to scholarships and grants

Perhaps your family doesn't qualify for financial aid at the colleges you applied to, or the scholarships you're awarded are limited. What else can you do to pay for college?

work-study is approved on- or off-campus work funded in part by federal or state work-study funds. Work-study is a need-based award typically ranging from $2000 to $5000. Complete the FAFSA to see if you qualify. Once you receive work-study funds, you need to apply for work-study in the same way you apply for any job. Work-study is usually flexible and tailored to your activities.

Even if you weren't given the opportunity to work and study, you can look for non-study jobs on or off campus to earn money for college.

Student loans

As a last resort, after exhausting all other available money, you can use student loans. They come in two types: federal loans and private loans. Low-interest federal direct student loans have annual limits that vary for dependent and independent students.

Then there are private student loans. You should always take out federal loans first because private loans do not offer the same protections as federal student loans, such as income-driven repayment plans. However, private loans may be needed to cover financing gaps. Private loans may offer a lower interest rate if you have a good credit score.

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