Pursuing grants for school can pay off in big ways. Student grants are monetary gifts to people who are pursuing higher education. Unlike student loans, grants do not require repayment. Student grants also differ from scholarships, which are usually given to and by specific groups of people for a specific line of study and often require students to excel as a scholar or athlete. Grants are typically need-based and awarded to students who may need help overcoming obstacles or barriers to an education.

Research Grants for School

You can define college grant programs in different ways depending on their purpose and target population. A few contrasting examples include federal grants, state grants, private grants, minority grants, grants for the disabled, military grants, grants for women and grants for students who are low income or come from disadvantaged backgrounds. Federal Supplemental Education Grants make college accessible to students with high financial need. Although fewer in number, international students in the U.S. can find grants for college. Check into unlikely sources of grants, including companies your parents work for and special alumni grants at the college of your choice.

Compete for Prestigious Grants

Besides the obvious benefit of helping a student pay for school, prestigious grants look good on graduate school applications. Receiving a Guggenheim Foundation grant or a Fulbright grant--two well-known and highly competitive student grants programs--can increases your chances of excelling in your chosen field of study.

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Identify Your Options

Because grants come in many different forms, they are available to many different populations of students. Grants such as the federal Pell Grant are available to students from low income families with limited financial means. Conversely, grants for school are not always needs-based; private colleges and universities invest approximately one-third of their grant money in students with the ability to pay. Merit based grants are used to recruit students who would be a special asset to the college or university. For instance, an upper income student who is an exceptional actor may be offered a prestigious talent grant.

Keep Track of Deadlines

Grants almost always have application deadlines well in advance of the corresponding school year. Deadlines vary. Some grants are only available to incoming freshmen, whereas others are only available to to upperclassmen and graduate students.

Work Hard on Applications

Prepare to devote an extraordinary amount of time when applying for student grants. Most schools also require students to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to be considered for any type of financial aid. FAFSA scholarships, grants and loans are need-based. Other kinds of grant applications are quite lengthy and have numerous requirements that may include personal statements and essays, financial statements, school transcripts and letters of reference.

Avoid Grant Scams

Be wary of misleading, scam grants for school. You do not need to pay anyone for a list of student grants. Never pay money to anyone to get a list of available student grants that you can easily find online on the website of organizations like FinAid.org and SallieMae. Also contact your school's financial aid office for suggestions.

About the Author

Eve Lopez has 10 years of editorial experience at a variety of companies, including Amazon.com, "The Seattle Times" and Business.com. She loves to travel and often writes about her travel experiences. Lopez earned a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from California State University and has been certified in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages).