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Your state may be a valuable resource for college funding. State grants for college are a type of gift aid. You don’t usually need to pay it back.
Most state grants apply to in-state schools. But some may enable you to use financial aid from your home state to pay out-of-state tuition.
Many states have tuition reciprocity programs. Also called ‘tuition breaks’ they allow residents to attend university in another state without having to pay out of state tuition.
Good places to check are your state and the colleges on your interest list. Here are a few examples:
Ask how to sign up and whether you can use your state grant for an out-of-state college. This may make it possible to take some classes online.
Each state may have different criteria though for handing out grants for college. Some typical qualifications are that you must attend an approved post secondary school as a full time student and good academic performance. Here are ten examples of eligibility rules for state college grants:
To receive financial aid, you must apply for it. A good place to start is with a Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The FAFSA figures out how much a student and their family can pay for college.
The number it comes up with is your financial need. It is the total cost of attendance at your college. Less the amount of your estimated family contribution (EFC).
Many states use the data from the EFC and FAFSA to figure out your eligibility for a state college grant. They may include a grant with the financial aid package sent by the colleges you applied to.
Remember that there are annual deadlines for most grant programs. Though if you miss one, you can try again next year. These do not always line up with deadlines to submit your FAFSA or college application.
State grant money may come from property taxes and lottery funds. But because each state administers their own program, sources may vary. For instance, they might come from:
A state grant may make a college degree more affordable. They may also help pay for your college’s tuition, fees, housing, books and supplies. At last check, 22% of undergraduates received financial aid from state sources.
This is even more helpful if you plan to attend a public university. These have a lower cost of attendance (COA). The COA factors in tuition, fees, housing, books and supplies.
Data shows it recently cost $24,300 to pursue a college degree at a public institution. Additionally, private non-profit schools average $50,300. While private for-profit schools have an average COA of $32,200.
The average amount of state aid for undergraduates who received it was $2,700. This means some states award more, will others offer less. For example, Minnesota offers state aid to in-state undergrads and graduates.
The highest award for 2017-2018 ranges from about $7,463 at a public two-year college to $11,812 at a private four-year college. The average award is approximately $2,401. The minimum award is $100 per year.
There are various types of state grants that may help you fund your college degree:
1. Need-based grants: States award many grants to students who need help paying for college. These need based grants look at your financial need and FAFSA.
The New Jersey Tuition Aid Grant (TAG) is one example. TAG is a need-based grant program. It is an option for degree-seeking, NJ resident, undergraduate students. As one of the most generous state education grants, it pays up to $7,086 for state colleges and universities.
2. Merit-based grants are different. They look at your abilities. Things like GPA, artistic or athletic talents, leadership, and community service.
There are some hybrid grants also. These look at your financial need, but you may need to keep up your GPA while in school.
3. Grants for minority students: Another type of grant may be a state-funded grant for minority students. These promote diversity and offer an incentive for minority students.
One example is Wisconsin’s Minority Undergraduate Retention Program. It is for students who identify as African American, American Indian, Hispanic, or Southeast Asian from Laos, Cambodia, or Vietnam. These need based grants pay up to $2,500.
4. Grants for foster care youth: Some states provide funding to students who are or were in foster care. Iowa is one example. These grants pay from $2,442 to $8,815. They are for students in Iowa’s foster care system.
5. Grants for Veterans and National Guard Members: There are grants in many states for veterans and National Guard Members. An example is Indiana. They offer many grants, one of which is the National Guard Tuition Supplement Grant.
It provides 100% of tuition and fees at a public Indiana college. It is for eligible members of the Indiana Air and Army National Guard.
Almost every state education agency has at least one grant available to residents. Many also have a long list of student aid programs. These are some of the top state grants for college to get you started.
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The sources for school statistics and data is the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System.
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