Resources › For Students and Parents Free Money for College: Paying for School With Grants Share Flipboard Email Print Ariel Skelley/Getty Images For Students and Parents Business School Choosing A Business School Business Specializations Business Degree Options Business School Admissions MBA Programs & Rankings Business Careers and Internships Student Resources Homework Help Private School Test Prep College Admissions College Life Graduate School Law School Distance Learning View More By Karen Schweitzer Business Education Expert Karen Schweitzer is a business school admissions consultant, curriculum developer, and education writer. She has been advising MBA applicants since 2005. our editorial process Karen Schweitzer Updated August 27, 2018 A grant is a sum of money that is gifted to someone for a specific purpose. For example, a grant might be awarded to a student so that the student can pay for tuition, books and other education-related costs. Grants are also known as awards or gift aid. Why You Need Grants Grants the best way to pay for college or business school. Unlike students loans, which can create a significant financial burden during and after school, grants do not need to be paid back. Getting Grants for School Students can receive grants from a variety of sources, including private organizations, educational institutions, professional associations, and federal and state governments. Grants may be awarded based on a student’s financial need, ethnicity, religious affiliation, record of achievement, association or special interests. Education Grants From the Federal Government There are many different types of grants awarded by the federal government. Let's explore a few of the best grants for school. Federal Pell Grant—Federal Pell Grants are the most common grants awarded by the federal government. These grants are primarily designed for students who have not yet earned a bachelor's degree. In other words, they are for undergraduate students. However, these grants might also be available to students in a postbaccalaureate teacher certification program. Federal Pell Grants are need-based; they are meant to help low-income students pay for school. Grant amounts vary by individual and are dependent on the cost of education and the student's expected family contribution (EFC).Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant—The federal government gives schools money through the FSEOG Program each year. These funds are then distributed by the school to financially-needy students. That means that FSEOG grants are campus-based aid. Not every school participates in this federal program, and the funds are usually available on a first-come, first-served based. Students who get FSEOG grants typically have a very low EFC and are usually Federal Pell Grant recipients. The amount of the award varies but usually falls somewhere between $100 and $4,000. Education Grants From the State Government Grants for school are also awarded at the state level. Each state has a different way of acquiring and distributing financial aid. Many states fund their programs with taxes and lottery earnings. State-based grants are usually designed to be spent at in-state schools, but again, rules vary by state. Some examples of state grant programs include the Pennsylvania State Grant Program, which is a need-based program that awards aid on a sliding scale based on annual income, and Cal Grants, a California-based program that awards aid to students who attend school at least half-time and falls under income and asset ceilings. Education Grants From Other Sources Federal and state governments aren't the only groups who award grants for school. Nearly all colleges and universities have some type of grant program for students who can demonstrate financial need. You should speak with your school's financial aid office to learn more about grant availability and application procedures. You may also be able to receive merit-based grants from professional associations, corporations, and other groups who have formal and informal programs for students seeking education funds. How to Apply for Grants The application procedure for grants varies depending on the organization. To apply for federal grants, you need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) each year you plan to attend school. Some states also award grants based on information supplied in the FAFSA form. However, application rules for each state vary. Contact your state's Department of Education to learn more about application procedures.