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What are the Different Types of Federal Tuition Assistance?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 27 November 2016
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In the United States, there are many different types of federal tuition assistance available to those students who meet certain criteria. It should be stated that students have more opportunities than those offered by the federal government, which they should always consider. There are grant programs offered by individual states too, and these may easily help pay for college for those who qualify. Yet, on the federal level, the programs are also excellent, though students may need to meet a variety of qualifying factors to get help.

The federal government has many different grant programs: always attractive because grants don’t need to be repaid. These include the Pell Grant, which is available to undergraduate students who meet certain economic requirements. Another grant for those from extremely poor backgrounds is the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG). For those with little money, this grant may nearly double what is offered in Pell Grant funds, though award amount varies by income.

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A more exclusive grant is the Academic Competitiveness Grant, available to only freshman or sophomores who have, with the former, attended a high school that meets certain qualifications for rigorous study, or to sophomores who have completed the first year of college with a 3.0 grade average or better. Students in their third and fourth years of college, if they’re eligible for Pell, may also qualify for the Science and Mathematics to Retain Talent (SMART) grant. They have to be majoring in certain forms of science or math in most cases, but this form of federal tuition assistance is on par with Pell in compensation; award amounts can change based on financial need or other factors.

While most types of federal tuition assistance are based solely on financial need, there is one grant that isn’t. This is the TEACH or Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant. A student must maintain good grades to keep this grant and must agree to spend several years as a teacher in a high need community, and major in a subject in which there is critical need. When people don’t honor this agreement, the entire amount of the grant, which can be granted yearly, gets turned into a student loan and must be repaid.

Other federal tuition assistance grants require some form of service too. All branches of the military have college tuition programs, but they do ask for service, and service years can vary in length. They may be subject to change if the country is involved in any military engagements.

Grants aren’t the only way to go. Federal tuition assistance also comes in the form of subsidized and unsubsidized student loans. These can help pay for college, though they do need to be repaid. Students are advised to thoroughly consider amounts they plan to borrow and determine whether chosen career will have sufficient pay to easily make loan payments.

The best way to find out what federal tuition assistance is available to each person is to fill out the Free Application For Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Those who are living at home with parents will need their help and parental income information, but people living on their own will usually have to gather individual income information or joint income details if they’re married. FAFSA may need to be filled out by certain deadlines each year in order to have access to the highest number of aid possibilities. Checking the FAFSA website is prudent to determine best dates to turn in the application.

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