Finding State Grants for College

By Patricia Gorden Neill - May 20th, 2013

With the cost of college skyrocketing, it pays for high school juniors and seniors to search out as many grants and scholarships as they can. Grant applications are usually made through the federal FAFSA form. When you file your FAFSA, both the federal Department of Education and your state’s education division will alert you to any grants you’re qualified for both federal and state.

While most everyone knows that the federal government awards millions of dollars in educational grants to help fund college educations, many are less aware that states also help students pay for their educations. Many states provide grants to students planning on attending in-state universities and colleges. The downside is if you want to attend an out of state school, you won’t be able to access funds from your state. If you are planning on going to a school in your state, you’re in luck. In fact, staying in state to go to college is one very easy way to cut the cost of your education. Unless a specific school out of state has a top of the line academic department or program you want attend, think hard about staying in state. The decision can save you thousands of dollars off your educational bill.

How to Find Grants and Scholarships in Your State

Chances are, your state has a Department of Education, although it may go by another name such as commission of higher education or board of education. Finding the department in charge of higher education is the first step in locating state grants. Here are some other steps you can take to locate state grants:

  • You can find out about every state’s higher education departments or agencies from the federal government. Go to the government’s education Web site at www.edu.gov. Find the search function and type in Education Resource Organizations Directory. EROD lists all the state’s education agencies, with contacts, phone and fax numbers, Web site and email addresses.
  • At your favorite search engine, type in the name of your state + educational grants and see what comes up. Other key words you can use would be college grants, money for college or education funds, whatever you think will work. Be flexible, as there’s probably a host of different names state grants could go by.
  • Call your state government education department and ask about college grants for in state students. Even if you don’t find contact information right away, the person answering the phone should be able to point you in the right direction.
  • Google your state’s Web page and use the search function there to look for education grants, money for college or other similar key words.
  • Ask the guidance or college counselor at your high school. Guidance counselors usually are alerted to grant programs and have a lot of knowledge about financial aid for college.
  • Call the financial aid office of the college you are planning on attending and ask about state grants. College financial aid officers will be able to advise you where to apply for your state’s education grants if it is isn’t through FAFSA.

Other Available Grants

Besides state governments, other county or local governments in your state might also provide educational funding. Corporations and companies headquartered in your state or who have a large presence in your state might also have education grants available. Search and ask about both grants and scholarships as these terms are often used interchangeably. The two terms have slightly different meanings, and the funding process is subtly different as well, but both are very close and both provide money for college that needn’t be repaid.

Other organizations in your state may provide grants or scholarships for education. Foundations, colleges and universities, religious organizations and educational not-for-profits can all be sources of financial aid for college. Time consuming as searching for grants and scholarships can be, the thousands of dollars you may receive for your efforts can make a difference in paying for your college. It’s easier to simply sign for a student loan, but these days that step is a potential danger to your financial well-being and peace of mind. Rather than spend years fretting late at night about how you’re going to make your student loan payment, do the work now and find those grants and scholarships. You’ll be glad you did.

About the Author

Patricia Gorden NeillPatricia Gorden Neill edited medical and scholarly journals for over 20 years in the ivy-covered halls of the University of Rochester. She is a freelance writer, often covering higher education and the concerns of college age students, and is regularly published on a variety of websites.