As the student financial aid season continues forward through the month of February, there are more students who are continuing to look for free forms of financial assistance as a way to avoid acquiring student loan debt through federal or private college loans. While there are many who would argue that federal student loans can be affordable, it’s obviously more beneficial for a student to graduate college without carrying some form of debt into their career, and for this reason popular financial aid sources like grants have been sought out to help pay college tuition costs through federal programs that offer aid to particular students.
Academic grants are simply one form of financial assistance that can be both competitive, but could also cut down on the overall number of individuals with whom a student is competing. One of the more widely known grants is the Academic Competitiveness Grant, which is a subcategory of the federal Pell Grant program, that can offer assistance to students who are beginning their college career and, obviously, need financial assistance.
Students who qualify for this grant must be eligible for Pell Grant funds and be enrolled at least half-time during their first year, but students must also have at least a 3.0 GPA at the end of their first year to receive this funding within the second year of their college education. Obviously, students who may fall into this category will not only show a high level of academic excellence and, according to qualifications, will be enrolled in particular courses of study at their university, but since these men and women must qualify for the Pell Grant, they are usually individuals who come from a low income background.
While this federal Academic Competitiveness Grant is not the only form of financial assistance that bases its award on one’s academic achievement and merit, many of these forms of financial assistance can be quite competitive and, for students hoping to acquire these sources of aid, it may be beneficial to not only apply early but also prepare for potential interviews or essays. While there are academic scholarships, federal grants, and even institutional scholarships that can offer a student the option of having the entire costs related to their college tuition needs met, these types of grants are not easily acquired and, students have often been prompted to apply early.
Since we are nearing the latter part of February, there have been some students who have already begun the process of applying for various scholarships and grants, as some of these forms of financial assistance may be on a first-come first-served basis or could have deadlines that must be met, again like essays or interviews. While there are no guarantees when it comes to these types of financial assistance, even for students who may have an excellent academic record, beginning the application process early will obviously give students more time to seek out alternative assistance plans that may be necessary if they are not given the financial aid they need from a particular grant.