Small Grants

It may seem that a college education is entirely out of reach because of the money. The desire may be there, and the academic acumen, but there just isn’t enough money to pay tuition and living expenses for the next few years.

Don’t give up yet. Instead, apply for small grants for education that can assist with the expenses of a college education. Be sure to complete the financial needs paperwork you receive upon enrollment in college. This paperwork is the first step in securing money for education.

It may not seem so at the time, but the grants awarded for college education are actually small grants, in the grand scheme of things. Big business grants, especially those in the sciences or medical fields, can add up to millions of dollars per project. Your school tuition is minimal in comparison, even if you’re planning on medical school.

The Higher Education Act of 1965 made small grants for students a common occurrence. Not every student qualifies to receive a grant but many students do. It’s worth checking into if there is any question at all about qualifying.

One of the most common of the small grants for education awarded as a part of the Higher Education Act is the Pell Grant. The Pell Grant was officially established as the Basic Educational Opportunity Grant program but has become more popularly know as the Pell because it was US Senator Claiborne Pell who originated it.

To become awarded with one of these small grants, a student’s financial need, including that of his or her parents, is assessed. It is assumed a parent or legal guardian will be providing additional financial support to the student so the household financial situation is considered, not just that of the student alone.

The US legislature sets the maximum dollar amount for these small grants and voted in 2006 to cut the budget for federal financial aid by $12.5 billion. There is money available to needy students, however, so don’t be discouraged by the budget cuts.

The maximum dollar amount established for small grants stayed the same, $4,050 per year, until the 2007-2008 school year. Before that, the $4,050 amount established in 2003 remained frozen due to legislative action.

In the 2007-2008 school year, however the limit for these small grants has been raised to $4,310 per year. The limit will be raised each year until 2012, when it will top out at $5,400, under the edicts of current legislative actions.

Today’s student can expect the small grants from the Pell Grant program to cover about a third of his or her expenses directly related to college. Twenty years ago, however, the Pell Grant’s value to education was higher. It covered about 60% of all college-related expenses.