What are grants?

• Grants are called gift aid because you don’t have to pay them back. Grant money comes from the federal government, state governments, and colleges.
• NeedBased Grants. Most grants awarded are based on financial need. The government and college look at your family’s financial circumstances to determine how much money support they can give you. A Pell Grant is the federal government’s needbased aid program, and it is worth up to $5,845 during the 201617 school year.
• MeritBased Grants. Colleges look at your academic record to determine how much money they can give you.

How do I get grant money to pay for college?

• In order to get grant money, you need to fill out a form called the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)High school students and their families fill out the FAFSA during the spring of their senior year. The FAFSA form takes into account your family’s financial situation and gives you an estimate of how much gift money you’ll need to afford college.
• Don’t forgetthere’s a deadline! January 1 of the year you plan to go to college is the first day you can file the FAFSA. The college you go to or the scholarship you want to apply for might have specific deadlines. Aim to file the FAFSA as close to January 1 as possible. Financial aid dollars are limited and are usually awarded on a firstcome, firstserve basis! 

Should I only look at cheaper schools?

• Don’t rule out “expensive” colleges! Remember that there’s a big difference between sticker price (the advertised cost of tuition + room and board, fees, books, etc.) and the real cost, or net price (the cost of tuition minus grants and scholarships). Even though a college charges a lot for tuition, it might offer you generous financial aid. It might even be more affordable than colleges that charge lower tuition. So think about the real cost or net price, not the published price  and don’t be afraid to apply to colleges you think you can’t afford.

Where can I find out more about grants?

In Alabama, grants are generally awarded based on the information you will provide through your FAFSA. 

Types of Grant Awards


  • Up to $5,845 for the 2016-2017 school year [amount can change yearly]
  • Dependent upon financial need
  • You can receive Federal Pell Grants for up to 12 semesters
  • Must complete FAFSA in order to be eligible


  • Needs based grant for low-income undergraduate students – priority given to students demonstrating “exceptional need”
  • $100-4,000/year
  • Must complete FAFSA in order to be eligible

More information about Federal Grant Programs.



  • The Office of Student Assistance is responsible for administering state-sponsored student financial aid programs, including:
    • Alabama Student Assistance Program
      • Need-based grant
      • $300-2,500 per year
  • Alabama Student Grant Program
    • Not based on need
    • Up to $1,200 per year
    • Available for undergraduate students attending:
      • Amridge University, Birmingham-Southern College, Concordia College, Faulkner University, Huntingdon College, Judson College, Miles College, Oakwood College, Samford University,  Spring Hill College, Stillman College, United States Sports Academy, University of Mobile and South University – Montgomery Campus.
  • Two-Year College Academic Scholarship Program
    • Value of in-state tuition & books at public, two-year postsecondary educational institutions in Alabama Possible
    • Not based on need


  • There are also career-based grants, minority-based grants, grants based on your status as a single mom or a first-generation college student, and grants based on the type of school you attend.
  • Grant search resources:

Career Based Grants

  • Grants can be found based on intended career choices.
  • Where can you find information about these?
  • Some examples include:
    • Journalism
    • Engineering
    • Social Work
    • Nursing
    • Art School
    • Law School
    • Cosmetology
    • Trade School
    • Beauty School
    • Medical School
    • Teaching

Minority Based Grants

  • Grants can be found based on various minorities.
  • Where can you find information about these?
  • Some examples include
    • Native American Grants
    • Hispanic Grants
    • Grants for black women
    • Left handed students

Grants Based on Student Type

  • Grants can be found based on different types of students.
  • Where can you find information about these?
  • Some examples include
    • Women grants
    • Single mom grants
    • First Generation College Student Grants
    • Adult Grants
    • Disabled Student Grants
    • Low income student grants
    • Non traditional student grant

Grants Based on School Type

  • Grants can be found based on the type of school you attend.
  • Where can you find more information about these?
  • Some examples include
    • Undergraduate Grants
    • Graduate Grants
    • Doctoral Grants
    • Private School Grants
    • Catholic School Grants



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