For some students, grants are the bread and butter of college. Without them, higher education wouldn’t be possible.

Unfortunately, just to make matters pretty complicated, the whole situation is a bit of a minefield. They are not easy to understand, and this means that some potential students don’t even realize that they are eligible to receive them.

According to Kevin Rolle, a huge amount of students are eligible for grants, and they don’t even know about it. Hopefully, you fall into this group, and by the end of this guide you’ll know exactly what you have to do to get that supposed “free money”.

What types of federal grants and scholarships are available?

Like a lot of the topics that we will cover on this page, there are a huge amount of grants and scholarships available and you really could write a dissertation about each one.

However, to provide food for thought, the main federal grants come in the form of federal pell grants, federal supplemental educational opportunity grants, teacher education assistance grants and Iraq and Afghanistan service grants.

In relation to scholarships, this is even more of a minefield. There are literally thousands of scholarships available, and there’s not just one source that offers them. Instead, they are available from umpteen different organizations. Some of these will be looking for the best students out there, with the highest grades, while others might be looking for students who are talented in a non-academic field, such as sport. There are even occasions where you might be eligible for a scholarship because your parents work for a specific company.

Are there any occasions you would have to repay a federal grant?

While they are usually classed as free money, there are occasions where you might have to pay at least some of a federal grant.

This might apply, for example, if you were to withdraw early from a particular program. Another might be if you switched from full-time to part-time enrolment, or if you started to receive scholarships from other areas that meant that you no longer qualified for a grant.

As such, there are a few exceptions, but on the whole it can be regarded as free cash for your studies.

How do you make sure that you are going to keep a grant?

If the previous section has sent alarm bells ringing, you really don’t have to fear. In truth, it’s only when your circumstances change that you have to repay a grant – and most of the time these changes in circumstances are to your benefit anyway (for example, you might receive a lot more money from a scholarship).

However, in terms of maintaining your grant, you simply have to check the small print. It is going to differ between programs, meaning that something relevant for one student isn’t going to be the same for another. As long as you keep meeting these requirements, your grant income will be maintained though.