Most federal government grants for students can be applied to living expenses, if your tuition is already covered via other financial means. Grant payments are dispersed through your school’s financial aid office. There, they will either hand you a check directly, or apply the disbursement to your outstanding balance with the college and give you the difference. This money can then be used to cover living expenses, along with books and supplies. You will probably need to combine it with other grants, loans, scholarships, or sources of income to fully cover your costs while going to college.

The Federal Pell Grant

Whenever any undergraduate student files for financial aid, they are considered for a Pell Grant. According to Student Aid on the Web, the Department of Education’s website, there have been occasions on which students with Bachelor’s degrees have been given Pell Grants to pursue teacher certification programs. The maximum amount given annually, as of 2010, is $5,550. The amount awarded will depend on your financial status and, if you are under 24 years of age, that of your parents as well. It will also depend on how many courses you are taking and how many semesters or trimesters you are planning on attending during the year for which you are applying. Students under age 24 who have lost a parent in Iraq or Afghanistan any time since September 11, 2001 are automatically eligible for a Pell Grant of the maximum amount.


If you already qualify for a Pell Grant, but are also deemed to have what the Department of Education calls “exceptional financial need” because of your parents’ low income status, you may also be eligible for this. The FSEOG (Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant) can net you an extra $100 to $4,000 per year, in addition to your Pell Grant. As with any financial aid, you will not find out if you qualify until you apply. They will not tell you ahead of time what constitutes "financial need," or how much you can get for it. Your ability to qualify might even vary from school to school, depending on the institution's particular policies, according to Student Aid on the Web.

National SMART Grant

Juniors and seniors majoring in science, math, technology, and certain foreign languages with grade point averages of 3.0 or above, may also get a National Science & Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant. This can pay up to $4,000 each for both the junior year and the senior year. In order to qualify, you must retain at least one course that is required for your major throughout each semester. You cannot take a semester to study courses that only fulfill general education requirements and still get the SMART Grant.

The TEACH Grant

The Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education grant is for those pursuing a teaching career who are willing to pledge that, after graduation, they will put in four years of teaching in low-income elementary and secondary students in what the Department of education deems “high-need fields.” These include science, math, foreign language, and special education. The TEACH Grant pays up to $4,000 per year.

State Government Grants

In addition to these federal grants, states have their own programs that vary considerably. For instance, Cal Grant B Entitlement Awards in California pay up to $1,551 annually (as of 2010) for student living expenses. The Oregon Opportunity Grant pays up to $2,721 per year for the same. Check with the student aid office at your college, or the schools you are considering attending.

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