College grants come in many forms and from many sources. Private, high profile college costs can easily top $20,000 an year for a four year degree. Due to the current high unemployment rate, student loans are becoming a much less popular form of financing an education. The idea of graduating with debt in the six-figure category, with no prospects for obtaining employment to repay the loan, is leading more students to apply for college grants that will not need to be re-paid. College grants offer a debt-free way to obtain higher education.
Students looking for college grants often think that all the grants come from the U.S. government. The government grant site, http://www.grants.gov, lists a number of grant opportunities, such as the popular Pell grant, the Academic Competitiveness Grant (AC), and the National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant, commonly known as the SMART grant. Both the AC and SMART grants require eligibility under the Pell grant program.
Beyond the federally backed grant programs, there are many other sources for college grants. Many states offer grant programs to resident students, and these programs are often grouped according to a specific demographic. A great way to find out what programs your state offers is to check with your local or regional colleges, or your state Department of Education. There are grants available to minorities, low-income, gifted students, and even older, so-called non-traditional students who may have been in the workforce, started a family and now wish to go back to school.
College grant assistance is available for the unemployed and under-employed. Some states are now offering college grant workshops specifically targeted at obtaining marketable degrees, such as within the nursing profession. These may become even more popular if the U.S. Congress ties training and educational program enrollment to eligibility for receiving unemployment benefits.
College grants may also be available through private businesses. For example, Coca Cola offers help to first-generation students from disadvantaged families. A great resource for information on these college grant opportunities, other than the Internet, is to approach your local Chamber of Commerce members. Many times, they may even sponsor community-based grants through donations to local foundations.
If you are interested in a subject-specific degree, such as teaching or nursing, check with the regional and national chapters for these fields. The human resources departments of some local hospitals may assist their employees in finding college grants.