Grants are considered gift aid and do not have to be repaid. Most grant aid is based on some type of need-based eligibility requirement; therefore, you must complete the FAFSA to apply for most grants. Although grants are a very desirable source of financial aid, the availability of grants is generally limited to the neediest students. Below are the grants available from the federal government.
Federal Pell Grant
Federal Pell Grants are awarded based upon the analysis of the FAFSA, cost-of-attendance, and enrollment status (full-time or part-time). Pell Grants are awarded only to undergraduate students who have not earned a bachelor's degree or professional degree. Pell Grants often provide a foundation of financial aid to which other aid is added for the neediest students.
The United States Department of Education uses a standardized formula, established by Congress called the Federal Needs Analysis Methodology, to evaluate the information you report on the FAFSA. The formula produces an Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The EFC number can range from zero to 99,999 or higher. Your Student Aid Report (SAR) contains this number and will tell you if you are eligible for a Pell Grant. You can get a booklet called the EFC Formula Book, which describes how a student's EFC is calculated, by writing to:
Federal Student Aid Programs
P.O. Box 84
Washington, DC 20044
The maximum Pell Grant for 2016-2017 is $5815.00 if you have a zero EFC. The maximum Pell Award can change each year based upon Congressional funding levels. However, if you are eligible for a Pell Grant based upon your EFC number, you are guaranteed to receive it. For the 2016-2017 school year, full-time students with an EFC from zero to 5234 qualify for some Pell Grant. Those with EFCs of 5235 or greater are not eligible for a Pell Grant, but could be eligible for other types of aid.
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG)
The Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (SEOG) is for undergraduate students with exceptional financial need. Preference is given to Pell Grant recipients with a zero EFC.
Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant
The Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant Program provides up to $4,000 per year in grants for graduate and undergraduate students who intend to teach full-time in high-need subject areas at schools that serve low-income families for at least four academic years within eight years. Students that do not complete their four year teaching obligation will have to repay the TEACH Grants as if they were a Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan, with interest accruing from the time the grant was disbursed.
- Undergraduate study: up to $4,000 per year for first baccalaureate to a maximum of $16,000
- Post-baccalaureate study: up to $4,000 per year for first post-baccalaureate teacher certification program, up to remaining balance of undergraduate maximum
- Graduate study: up to $4,000 per year for a Master’s degree to a maximum of $8,000
Student Eligibility Requirements For The TEACH Grant
- Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), although you do not have to demonstrate financial need.
- Be enrolled in a program of study designated as TEACH Grant-eligible. Eligible programs are those that prepare a student to teach in a high-need area. High need fields include:
- Bilingual Education and English Language Acquisition
- Foreign Language
- Reading Specialist
- Special Education
- Other teacher shortage areas documented as high-need by the Federal government, a State government, or a local education agency, approved by the U.S. Department of Education, and listed in the Department of Education’s Annual Teacher Shortage Area Nationwide Listing at the time you begin your teaching service.
- Score above the 75th percentile on a college admissions test (e.g. SAT, ACT, GRE); or
- Graduate from high school with a cumulative GPA of at least 3.25 (on a 4.0 scale) to receive a grant as a freshman; or
- Have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.25 (on a 4.0 scale) through the most recent payment period on your college coursework to receive a grant for each subsequent term.
Agreement to Serve and Promise to Pay
Each year you receive a TEACH Grant, you must sign a TEACH Grant Agreement to Serve that is available electronically on the TEACH Grant Agreement to Serve Web site. The TEACH Grant Agreement to Serve specifies the conditions under which the grant will be awarded, the teaching service requirements, and includes an acknowledgment by you that you understand that if you do not meet the teaching service requirements you must repay the grant as a Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan, with interest accrued from the date the grant funds were disbursed. Specifically, the TEACH Grant Agreement to Serve will require the following:
- For each TEACH Grant-eligible program for which you received TEACH Grant funds, you must serve as a full-time teacher for a total of at least four academic years within eight calendar years after you completed or withdrew from the academic program for which you received the TEACH Grant.
- You must perform the teaching service as a highly-qualified teacher at a low-income school. The term highly-qualified teacher is defined in section 9101(23) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 or in section 602(10) of the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act.
- Your teaching service must be in a high-need field.
- You must comply with any other requirements that the Department of Education determines to be necessary.
- If you do not complete the required teaching service obligation, TEACH Grant funds you received will be converted to a Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loan that you must repay, with interest charged from the date of each TEACH Grant disbursement.
Schools Serving Low-Income Students
Schools serving low-income students include any elementary or secondary school that is listed in the Department of Educations Annual Directory of Designated Low-Income Schools for Teacher Cancellation Benefits. To access the Directory, please go to tcli.ed.gov.
If you receive a TEACH Grant but do not complete the required teaching service, as explained above, you will be required to repay the grants as a Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loan, with interest charged from the date of each TEACH Grant disbursement. Once the grant has been converted to a loan, it cannot be converted back to a grant.