Georgia’s incoming college students have a hefty price tag ahead of them. The average cost of college in Georgia in 2017 was $18,877, according to College Tuition Compare. Since the state only covers about half of a student’s total costs, paying for college can get expensive.
To pay for college, take advantage of Georgia grants that are available to residents. Here are some to look for.
The difference between grants and scholarships
Grants and scholarships are both gift aid. That means they don’t need to be paid back like loans. Both are available at the local, state, and federal level.
The difference, however, is that grants are based on financial need, such as how much your parents can contribute to your college education. Scholarships are based on merit, such as high academic or athletic achievement.
How to get Georgia grants
Filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the first step in determining how much money you’ll receive for college. If you’re a dependent student, get your parents to help you fill it out. There are a few things you’ll need to qualify for aid, such as having (or on your way to getting) a high school diploma and being a U.S. citizen.
After your FAFSA is completed, you’ll get an award letter detailing your Estimated Family Contribution (EFC), or how much you and your family are expected to pay out of pocket for your school. The letter will also include how much money you’ll be getting from grants, scholarships, and loans.
For some state-sponsored grants, you’ll need to complete the Georgia Student Finance Commission application.
6 Georgia grants for college
There are many grants available. Some of these require applications outside of the FAFSA. Be sure to check how to apply for each one that you’re interested in.
1. HOPE Grant
One of Georgia’s largest programs is HOPE: Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally. There are a few variations of this, including:
- HOPE Grant: This is open to anyone and covers partial tuition, as long as you maintain a 2.0 GPA. The amount varies for full-time and part-time recipients.
- HOPE Career Grant: If you’re eligible for the HOPE Grant, you might also qualify for the HOPE Career Grant.
- HOPE GED Grant: This is a one-time $500 award that covers tuition, books, or any other related costs. The grant must be used within two years of getting your GED.
These are different from the HOPE Scholarship, the largest state merit aid program in the country.
2. Zell Miller Grant
The Zell Miller Grant is a little more stringent than the HOPE Grant in requirements. You must graduate high school with a 3.5 GPA and maintain it every year throughout college to remain eligible. There’s also the Zell Miller Scholarship, which has higher standards than the HOPE Scholarship. It requires a 3.7 GPA and at least a 1200 score on the math and reading portions of the SAT.
3. Dual Enrollment
If you’re a high school student looking to enroll in college-level courses, you could receive money toward tuition, fees, and books through the Dual Enrollment program. Not all colleges take part, so make sure a school is participating before you enroll. This program requires a separate application form from the FAFSA. It’s open to students in public or private schools, or home study programs.
4. Georgia Tuition Equalization Grant Program (GTEG)
The GTEG encourages you to enroll in private colleges and universities in the state. You could get up to $475 a semester to help reduce the higher cost of private colleges. If you’re on track to attend a private college or university, you might qualify for extra money from the GTEG.
5. Public Safety Memorial Grant
If you’re the dependent child of a public safety worker that has died or was disabled in the line of duty, you could be eligible for the Public Safety Memorial Grant. Children of law enforcement officers, EMTs, firefighters, prison guards, and correctional officers qualify.
If awarded, your entire college education could be paid for up to $18,000 per academic year. This requires a separate application from the FAFSA.
6. University of North Georgia ROTC Grant and ROTC Grant for Future Officers
The University of North Georgia ROTC Grant and ROTC Grant for Future Officers are designed for students enrolled or planning to enroll in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps at UNG. If you’re headed to UNG as an ROTC student, you’ll need to apply for this separately from the FAFSA.
Other federal grants available
When you complete the FAFSA, you’ll be awarded a mix of federal grants, scholarships, and loans. Here are some that you might be eligible for as a Georgia resident.
The Federal Pell Grant is one of the biggest grants offered in the country. Your award will be based on your financial need and EFC. You’ll need to complete the FAFSA to qualify.
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)
The FSEOG is administered through the school you’re planning on attending, but you must complete the FAFSA to be eligible. Not all schools participate in this grant, so check with your college’s financial aid office to see if you’re eligible to receive it. Once FSEOG funds run out, no more money can be awarded for the rest of the year. So, apply as early as possible.
Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant
You could be eligible to receive the TEACH Grant if you complete certain classes and agree to be a teacher under certain conditions. This grant is unique because although you’ll receive the money as a grant, if you fail to meet the requirements of the award, it’ll be converted into a Direct Unsubsidized Loan.
Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant
If a parent or family member has died due to military service in Iraq or Afghanistan after 9/11, you might be able to receive an Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant. If you meet the requirements for a Pell Grant except for the EFC, you may receive this grant instead of the Pell Grant. You can receive the same maximum amount the Pell Grant awards. You can only get one award or the other, though, not both.
To get Georgia college grants, act now
As the cost of college continues to rise, it’s important to take advantage of all the free money available to you as soon as you can. Whether it’s federal, state, or local grants, explore all your financing options. If you’re still coming up short, consider applying for private student loans to make sure all your bases are covered.
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