College tuition is too expensive for many students to manage on their own, but there are many government funded college grants available to needy students. Unlike student loans, college grants do not have to be repaid. Each type of grant has specific eligibility criteria. Some grants are based solely on financial aid and some have academic requirements. There are a few different types of grants.
Federal Pell Grant
In the world of college grants, the Federal Pell Grant is the most common. This grant is based entirely on financial need. Every student attending an accredited college or university who has not yet earned a bachelor's degree is eligible. The grant offered is equivalent to the number of credit hours a student has enrolled in each semester, up to the amount of need. To apply for the Federal Pell Grant, students and parents must fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). As of the 2009 - 2010 school year, the maximum grant is $5,350 US Dollars (USD).
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)
The FSEOG is offered to students with the most financial need. Students are not automatically eligible as with the Federal Pell Grant. The amount offered is based on financial need as well as funding available and financial aid policies at individual schools. Since FSEOG funds are limited, those who apply first are most likely to receive this grant. As of the 2008 - 2009 school year, the amounts offered are between $100 USD and $4,000 USD.
Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG)
The ACG is available for first and second year students who are also receiving a Federal Pell Grant. This grant falls under the academic college grants category. First year students must have completed a qualifying high school program after 1 January 2006. Second year students must have completed a qualifying high school program after 1 January 2005 and maintained a grade point average of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale in the first year of college study. As of the 2008 - 2009 school year, first year students are eligible for up to $750 USD, and second year students are eligible for up to $1,300 USD.
National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant (National SMART Grant)
The National SMART Grant is offered to third and fourth year students majoring in specific subjects. Students must be eligible for a Pell Grant as well as have maintained a 3.0 grade point average. As of the 2008 - 2009 school year, the maximum grant is $4,000 USD.
Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant
The TEACH Grant is available for both undergrad and graduate students enrolled in courses that will lead to teaching positions at elementary and secondary schools. Recipients must sign an agreement to teach for four years at a school in a teacher shortage area that serves low-income families. As of the 2008 - 2009 school year, the maximum grant is $4,000 USD.