Paying For College

Students applying for or accepted to college often seek financial aid to help paying for college tuition costs.  An overlooked resource is grants for college.  Grants are available to students in most fields of study.

If you are attending a college in your community, a great resource is your community foundation.  These foundations often serve at least one county but may serve multiple adjacent counties.  You can contact the foundation directly to find out what type of college grants they offer.  These can pay for tuition and, in some cases, books and supplies for higher education.

Some grants for college are designated for specific industries such as teaching or engineering.  Others are for entering freshman or graduate students.  Each college grant opportunity has specific eligibility requirements that are detailed in the grant application and accompanying guidelines.

Grants for college can be awarded based on financial need or academic merit.  Some foundations require an interview of the applicant before making a final decision on award.  Most require high school transcripts and letters of recommendation at a minimum.  Be prepared to write an essay on why you are the best candidate to receive the grant and what your career goals are once you graduate.  Many college grants are renewable.  This means that after successful completion of your first year, you may be eligible for a second year of financial support.

Another source for college grants is local employers who provide grants for specific fields of study.  For example, an engineering company may provide grants to high school students with high academic scores.  These college grants may have a caveat requiring the student to work at the company for a specified number of years after obtaining the pursued degree.

College grants can also be available through community-based organizations and civic groups.  Large civic organizations may sponsor a student’s entire education.  These grants for college are typically based on a combination of academic merit, leadership, and community volunteer activities.  You can contact your local chamber of commerce or community foundation for information on these types of college grants.

A final resource for college grants is the actual college itself.  Colleges often have foundations that provide grants to enrolled students.  In addition, many departments within the college offer grants to students, primarily paying for college tuition.  These grants will be a combination of financial need and merit based aid.  Some programs have so many grants a that you need to only complete one application and the grant committee uses that application to review all the opportunities you are eligible for.  This streamlined process makes it easier for applicants as well as the college grants committee.