Financing A College Degree: The Grants You Need to Know About

Attending college can be an exhilarating endeavor, a stepping stone to achieving one's career goals. However, the cost of pursuing higher education often poses a substantial financial hurdle for many students and their families. As such, it is crucial to fully understand the various financial aid options available to help with these expenses.

With a myriad of resources to soften the financial strain, knowledge of what is available can increase access to educational opportunities and diminish the barriers to entry. This article, therefore, seeks to explore several aid options, including U.S. government grants, state grants, and college grants that can help fund you or your child’s academic journey.

We'll explore these different types of financial aid, and how they can play a pivotal role in funding higher education. 

Understanding the Basics of Financial Aid for College

Financial aid is a broad term that describes funds provided to students and families to help pay for post-secondary educational expenses. 

This financial support can significantly reduce the cost of a college education, making it more accessible to a greater number of students. 

There are four primary types of financial aid: scholarships, grants, work-study programs, and loans.

Scholarships and grants are types of "gift aid" that do not need to be repaid. They are often awarded based on a variety of factors including academic achievement, talent, field of study, or financial need. Work-study programs offer part-time jobs for students with financial need, allowing them to earn money to help pay for educational expenses. Lastly, loans are borrowed funds that must be repaid with interest.

In this blog we will break down 3 different types of grants available to students and how to take advantage of them.

Breaking Down 3 Different Types of College Grants

One of the most common forms of financial aid for college includes grants. Grants, like scholarships, don't need to be repaid and are often based on financial need. 

Here are 3 types of grants to research:

1) US Government Grants

The US federal government provides a number of grants based predominantly on financial need. Notably, these grants don’t have to be repaid, making them incredibly valuable resources for students facing financial hardship. 

Two primary government grants awarded to college students are the Pell Grant and the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG).

Pell Grants

The Pell Grant, named after Rhode Island Senator Claiborne Pell, is intended to assist undergraduate students who demonstrate exceptional financial need. The amount one can receive depends on factors such as financial need, costs to attend school, status as a full-time or part-time student, and plans to attend school for a full academic year or less. 

The maximum amount that can be awarded changes every award year and is determined by program funding. While the Pell Grant may not cover all college costs, it serves as a fundamental base of financial aid to which other forms can be added.


Less well-known but still significant is the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG). This grant is designed for undergraduate students with extreme financial need. 

The FSEOG is administered directly by the financial aid office at participating schools and is therefore not available at all institutions. Unlike the Pell Grant, which is awarded to every eligible student, the FSEOG is given on a first-come, first-served basis. 

Therefore, the sooner you or your child applies, the better chance of receiving this grant. Amounts can range from $100 to $4,000 per year based on the severity of financial need, the funding at the school being attended, and the policies of the financial aid office at the school.

2) State Grants

In addition to federal grants, many state governments also provide grants to students based on financial need, academic merit, or both. These grants can either supplement federal aid or serve as the primary source of funding for students who may not qualify for federal aid.

The specifics of state grants vary widely depending on the state. Some states offer general grants to residents attending a college or university within the state, while others may provide targeted assistance to students pursuing degrees in high-demand fields, students from underrepresented groups, or students committed to working in under-served communities after graduation.

In order to receive state grants, students typically need to complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), as well as any state-specific financial aid forms. Some states also require students to maintain a minimum GPA or progress towards degree completion in order to remain eligible for funding.

To find out more about specific state grants, students are encouraged to visit their state’s department of education website or contact financial aid offices at the colleges or universities they are interested in attending. Alongside federal aid, state grants represent a crucial opportunity that can help make higher education more affordable.

3) College Grants

While federal and state grants provide substantial financial aid, you shouldn't overlook the crucial aid offered directly by colleges and universities. 

College grants, like federal and state grants, do not need to be repaid, making them an attractive option for students. They may be based on various factors including financial need, academic merit, or specific area of study or career prospects.

Institutional grants can be divided into two main categories: need-based and merit-based.
  • Need-based grants are allocated to students with demonstrated financial need. These are intended to make college affordable for students of all income levels by filling in the gap between tuition costs and what a family can afford to pay.
  • Merit-based grants, on the other hand, are awarded to students who demonstrate exceptional academic or extracurricular achievement. These grants are a way for colleges to attract talented students to their campuses. Therefore, maintaining superior grades, participating in clubs and organizations, or excelling in athletics may significantly contribute to securing additional college financing.
It's essential to note that each college or university has its own application procedures and deadlines for their grant programs. Therefore, students should consult directly with their institution's financial aid office to be sure they are aware of all potential funding sources. 

Remember, every dollar in grants you or your child receives is a dollar less in loans that will need to be repaid. Hence, taking time to explore all available college grants is a worthy investment.

The Role of Investment Planning in College Education

Investment planning is crucial when it comes to funding a college education. It's not just about saving money, but also about smartly investing it over time to cover future expenses. 

Starting early offers the advantage of time, allowing investments to grow and compound, easing the financial burden when the time comes to pay for college.

Setting clear financial goals and devising strategies to achieve them are essential parts of the planning process. It's about identifying the amount needed, the time frame for accumulating it, and the investment avenues that can help achieve this target.

It's equally important to regularly review and adjust these goals and strategies based on changes in circumstances or financial markets.

How Riverside Capital Management Group Can Help

We understand that navigating the world of financial aid and college financing can be overwhelming. That's where our team steps in, ready to guide you through the process and answer any questions you may have. 

We help interpret financial aid packages, explore loan options, and make sense of interest rates and repayment plans.

Our advisors can also assist in planning for the unexpected. We take into account potential changes in financial circumstances, helping you understand how job loss, salary changes, or unexpected expenses might impact your college funding strategy.

With Riverside Capital Management Group, you're not just getting financial advice; you're gaining a partner dedicated to helping you or your child achieve higher education financial goals.

Through our services, we strive to minimize your financial stress and maximize your investment, paving the way for a brighter educational future.

Make an Investment Towards a Brighter Future

Navigating the landscape of college financial aid may seem daunting, but understanding different grant opportunities can go a long way in making higher education affordable. 

Federal grants like the Pell Grant and FSEOG, when coupled with state and college grants, can significantly reduce the financial burden faced by many students. 

Remember, grants do not have to be repaid, making them a financially strategic way to fund a college education. However, since many of these grants are based on financial need, it's essential to complete the FAFSA and other state or institutional financial aid forms meticulously and timely.

Everyone should have the opportunity to further their education. Remember to research each grant thoroughly, consult with financial aid offices, and don't leave any stone unturned in your quest for financial aid.

At Riverside Capital Management, we encourage you to take advantage of our advisory services so that we can help you explore all these paths to financial aid.

This article was written by Redstitch, LLC and provided to you by Jim Back, Financial Advisor, CFP®.

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