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How to Find State and Federal Grants for College

Check out the options you have to apply for state and federal grant programs that can help finance your education.


  • Step 1: Attend college in-state and search for resident scholarship programs offering tuition assistance. State programs vary, but often target grants to encourage study in certain areas.
  • TIP: Michigan's grant programs, for instance, cast a wide net to include a cross-section of academically gifted, low-income, and even non-traditional adult students.
  • Step 2: Register with the Selective Service to access federal financial aid and an array of grants that become available when you apply. In addition, you will be in the running for federal job training through the Workforce Investment Act.
  • FACT: Nearly 11.5 million students enrolled in 2- and 4-year colleges in the fall of 2008 -- the highest level ever up to that point.
  • Step 3: Prove financial need and avail yourself of a Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant of up to $4,000.
  • Step 4: Pursue grants for college if you are Native American by looking up opportunities listed with the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Indian Health Service, and the American Indian College Fund.
  • Step 5: Demonstrate outstanding academics, with an aptitude for leadership and service, and you may qualify for The Academic Competitiveness Grant, available to freshman and sophomores. You will also need to be Pell Grant eligible.
  • TIP: The Pell Grant is a limited fund, so apply early.
  • Step 6: Inquire about grant opportunities for Hispanics through Sallie Mae in conjunction with the Hispanic College Fund, which administers a "First in My Family" Scholarship Fund for students from disadvantaged families and families with no history of college education.
  • Step 7: Seek a career in health care and benefit from the Department of Health's grants to certain institutions targeting minorities who wish to work in health care.
  • Step 8: Find out about Pell grants, by far the largest grant program for state and federal help for college tuition. Ranging from a few hundred to several thousand dollars, they're based solely on need, under federally approved guidelines.

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