Student housing adds an additional expense to the high cost of furthering your education. Whether you are planning to live on or off campus, grants can help with rent. A grant is free money that does not have to be repaid. Most grants are need-based, with priority given to those who demonstrate the greatest financial need. Grants are available from various organizations and agencies. If approved for a grant, the money is sent directly to the school. Money leftover after tuition and fees is yours to use on any other school expenses.
Prospective college students who want to receive financial assistance must complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The form is used to calculate your ability to pay for college based on your reported income. Depending on your expected contribution and anticipated cost of tuition and housing, you might qualify for federal grants. Pell Grants are the largest grants available from the government. For the 2013 to 2014 academic year, the minimum grant for a full-time student is $582, and the maximum is $5,645, annually. Students with exceptional financial need may also qualify for a Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant up to $4,000.
States may offer additional grants to financially needy students. For example, at the time of publication, California offers qualifying students grants up to $12,192 a year for tuition and other related expenses. Students must complete a FAFSA to apply. Applicants must meet specific income and academic requirements. In Iowa, students can receive up to $1,000 a year. Texas students with a low to moderate income may qualify for $7,400 per year from the state program. Refer to your state's student aid commission for available programs.
The school's financial aid office can provide you information on getting help paying for housing. Some schools offer need-based grants to students who fall below certain income limits. Inquire about scholarship or a work-study program for your particular major. Funding is often limited. It is best to apply as soon as possible for assistance. In Florida, some colleges choose to participate in the need-based First Generation Matching Grant Program. The program offers grants to students who are the first in their families to earn a baccalaureate degree.
Private organizations commonly offer grants to help with education expenses, including housing. Specific eligibility requirements vary depending on the organization. The national nonprofit group Farmers of America awards annual grants to applicants who demonstrate financial need. The Military Order of the Purple Heart Service Foundation offers supplemental grants to students of military veterans awarded the Purple Heart. Many businesses offer need and merit-based scholarships. Some are limited to students pursuing a career in a specific industry. For example, Tylenol offers scholarships for students in the medical field.
Jeannine Mancini, a Florida native, has been writing business and personal finance articles since 2003. Her articles have been published in the Florida Today and Orlando Sentinel. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Central Florida.