About 47 percent of families used at least one grant to help pay for college during the 2016-2017 academic year, according to Sallie Mae’s 2017 report.
Whether they come from the federal government, your school, or another organization, grants are important because they decrease (or even erase) the need for loans.
Although state grants for college are typically need-based and determined by your FAFSA, they’re another great way to save you money.
How to find state grants for college
The federal government’s four grants for college and graduate students can all be found under the same roof: the Department of Education (DOE). But there are a few different ways to find state grants for college.
As with scholarship opportunities, you’ll want to be aware of grant application deadlines and eligibility rules. These programs are typically (but not always) restricted to residents attending qualifying in-state schools, for example.
In some cases, you might apply to the state’s education department; in others, directly with your school or by listing the school on your completed FAFSA. Almost all state grants require filling out the FAFSA.
Additionally, many states exclude applicants who have defaulted on a student loan.
Whether you’re an adult going back to college or looking for financial aid to start graduate school, here’s a rundown on state grants for college. Click your state to jump to the info you need.
District of Columbia
There are two grants available via the Alabama Commission on Higher Education. Both require residency and are awarded based on financial need. The Assistance Program Grant hands out between $300 and $5,000 per student, and the Alabama Student Grant comes with a reward of up to $1,200 per year.
Awards ranging between $500 and $4,000 are given to undergraduates via the Alaska Education Grant. The state’s legislature prioritizes students with the most financial need first, then works its way down to less-needy students until exhausting available funds.
The Arizona Commission for Postsecondary Education offers a grant for needy students. Through the Arizona Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership, participating state schools can offer needy undergraduates as much as $2,500 per year. The average award is closer to $1,000.
The state’s education department has grants for three different kinds of students:
- Future Grant: Low-income students seeking in-state certificates and associate’s degrees in high-demand fields like science, technology, engineering, and math from qualifying programs
- Health Education Grant: Graduates pursuing professional medical degrees from one of 77 eligible out-of-state schools
- Teacher Opportunity Program: Up to $3,000 in reimbursement grants per year for teachers furthering their education
California awards more grant aid to low-income students than most states and the federal government, according to a 2017 study performed by the University of California at Berkeley.
Aside from Cal Grant programs, a collection of awards for undergraduates, the state also offers the California Chafee Grant program for foster youth. Additionally, the state provides funds for financially needy students via the California Dream Act.
Beyond offering tuition assistance to the families of military members and public servants, Colorado has two grants for undergraduate and graduate students who demonstrate financial need via the FAFSA.
Although it doesn’t offer any grants in name, the state’s Roberta B. Willis Scholarship functions as one. Based on merit and financial need, high school seniors and graduates could receive up to $5,250 (at a four-year school) or $4,650 (at a two-year school) per academic year.
To qualify, Connecticut residents must be in the top 20 percent of their high school class, register an SAT score of 1,210 or more, or record at least a 27 on the ACT. Applications are completed through high school guidance offices.
The state’s Higher Education Office offers the Scholarship Incentive Program (SCIP). It gifts $1,000 awards to financially needy, high-performing undergraduate and graduate students. There is a minimum GPA requirement of 2.5.
District of Columbia
The nation’s capital offers the DC Tuition Assistance Grant (DCTAG). It offers two types of annual awards:
- Up to $10,000 toward the difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition at public schools
- Up to $2,500 toward tuition at private schools in D.C. and private historically black colleges and universities throughout the country
The grants are restricted to undergraduates under the age of 26 who are attending qualifying schools.
Students seeking grants from the state of Florida are instructed to complete both the FAFSA and the state’s Florida Financial Aid Application (FFAA). Although the FFAA isn’t required for all grants, it keeps these options open:
- Access to Better Learning and Education Grant
- First Generation Matching Grant
- Florida Resident Access Grant
- Florida Student Assistance Grant
- Florida Public Postsecondary Career Education Student Assistance Grant
- José Martí Scholarship Challenge Grant
The Georgia Student Finance Commission manages six state-funded scholarships and grants. In addition to grants with ties to the military and the families of public servants, the Tuition Equalization Grant program helps all students, regardless of need, afford the cost of attending private schools in the state.
The REACH Georgia program, meanwhile, is a needs-based scholarship that might be a better fit for low-income students attending any school in the state. Beyond a maximum four-year scholarship of $10,000, the program also provides on-campus mentoring.
Low-income residents can apply through their schools for Hawaii-funded Opportunity grants, which help to cover tuition but not fees.
Native Hawaiians seeking a bachelor’s degree from the University of Hawaii West O‘ahu have one other option for grant aid. The state-funded Native Hawaiian Tuition Scholarship requires an application and proof of ancestry.
The Idaho State Board of Education awards seven state-funded scholarships. Although none of them are grants by name, several of the scholarships are need-based. That said, they do still have requirements.
The Idaho Opportunity Scholarship (3.0 GPA), the Tschudy Family Scholarship (2.6 GPA), and the GEAR UP Idaho Scholarship 1 (2.0 GPA) have academic performance requirements. Only the GEAR UP Idaho Scholarship 2 does not take merit into account.
Illinois offers grants for students with connections to veterans, national guardsmen, and dependents of police, fire, and correctional officers. If you don’t fall into those groups, you might receive aid through these two grant programs:
- Higher Education License Plate Program: When Illinois residents buy license plates featuring their alma maters, the proceeds fund this program for prospective or current students of the same school. The number of the awards varies by year.
- Monetary Award Program: Low-income undergraduates attending approved in-state schools can receive aid for their tuition and mandatory fees. The Illinois Student Assistance Commission provides a calculator to help estimate your award.
Among the state’s many aid options, EARN Indiana is a work-study program for students from low-income families. The students earn paid internships.
Needy students also have these grant opportunities at their disposal:
- Adult Student Grant: Working adults can receive a $1,000 grant toward starting or continuing their education. The program was created in 2015 to meet the needs of over 750,000 Indiana residents with some college experience but no degree.
- Frank O’Bannon Grant: Undergra duates with financial need can earn awards tied to their expected family contribution (EFC). A student with an EFC of $0 in 2017 could receive between $2,900 and $9,000 depending on their school choice.
- Workforce Ready Grant: This program covers the tuition and some fees for working-age residents pursuing a certificate at Ivy Tech Community College or Vincennes University.
The Iowa College Student Aid Commission manages a handful of assistance programs for residents, including four grants with varying purposes:
- Education and Training Voucher Grant: Available for students who age out of foster care or are adopted after age 16, this grant provides up to $5,000 per year.
- Iowa Tuition Grant: Iowans who fill out the FAFSA are automatically considered for this award, which helps cover tuition at qualifying private colleges in the state.
- Iowa Vocational-Technical Grant: Students attending career or technical education programs at Iowa community colleges can receive up to $900 per year.
- Kibbie Grant (Iowa Skilled Workforce Shortage Tuition Grant): Also available for community college students, this grant maxes out at half of the average Iowa community college’s tuition cost and mandatory fees.
Beyond its scholarships, Kansas has two grants for different groups of students:
- Kansas Career Technical Workforce Grant: This grant offers up to $1,000 and is available to in-state students pursuing a technical certificate or an associate of applied science degree. Preference is given to the financially needy.
- Kansas Comprehensive Grant: Financially needy, in-state students can receive between $100 and $3,500 depending on their school type and income level. The state estimates that only one in three eligible applicants will receive aid.
Kentucky’s Higher Education Assistance Authority provides three grant opportunities with varying maximum awards: the College Access Program Grant ($1,900), the Kentucky Tuition Grant ($2,920), and the Go Higher Grant ($1,000).
Among its many forms of support for higher education, Louisiana has one grant opportunity for its residents. The Louisiana Go Grant aims to support nontraditional students with low to moderate income.
Maine’s financial aid for residents includes scholarships, loan forgiveness programs, and tuition waivers. It’s also highlighted by two grants:
- John R. Justice Grant: This program grants aid to public defenders and state prosecutors, though the award amount varies based on state funding.
- State of Maine Grant: Low-income students attending a qualifying in-state school can earn up to $1,500 in aid.
Aside from its menu of need-based scholarships and a grant program for part-time students, Maryland has three grants as part of its Howard P. Rawlings Program of Educational Excellence Awards:
- Campus-Based Educational Assistance Grant: Financially needy students who are ineligible for the Educational Assistance Grant because they didn’t file the FAFSA by March 1 can receive up to a $3,000 award through their school.
- Educational Assistance Grant: Financially needy undergraduate students can receive between $400 and $3,000 per year.
- Guaranteed Access Grant: High school seniors applying for the first time must come from a family that makes less than 130 percent of the state’s poverty-level income. The renewable grant has a maximum award of $19,000.
The state’s department of education offers seven grants through its office of student financial assistance:
- Cash Grant: Students already receiving tuition assistance because of financial need can qualify for this grant to cover additional educational expenses.
- Foster Child Grant: Students under the age of 25 can receive up to $6,000 toward the tuition of any U.S. school.
- Gilbert Matching Student Grant: Nursing students with financial need can earn between $200 and $2,500 per year.
- MASSGrant: Students with an EFC between $0 and $5,328 can qualify for aid to attend approved schools in Massachusetts, Vermont, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.
- Paraprofessional Teacher Preparation Grant: Paraprofessionals seeking their teacher’s license could receive between $4,000 and $7,500 per year.
- Part-Time Grant: Financially needy students returning to school on a part-time basis can receive at least $200 in aid.
- Public Service Grant: Not based on financial need, this program covers the full tuition charges of children and spouses of deceased public servants.
In addition to its grants for children of state veterans as well survivors of its police officers and firefighters, Michigan offers a tuition grant to needy students. The program offers a maximum award of $2,000 to students attending nonprofit schools in Michigan.
Using the Minnesota State Grant, financially needy undergraduate students can receive an average award of $1,857. You can apply for it by filling out the FAFSA. Undocumented students ineligible to fill out the FAFSA are instructed to instead fill out the state’s Dream Act application.
Here are two more Minnesota-funded grants for more specific situations:
- Child Care Grant: Residents going to school who have children 12 or younger could receive up to $3,000 per year per child.
- MnSCU Two-Year Occupational Grant Pilot Program: MnSCU students preparing for high-demand careers can get their tuition and fees covered after federal and state grants have been applied.
The state offers two grants for undergraduate students attending school in the state. Unlike grants in other states, they’re partly merit-based.
Mississippi’s grants include:
- Eminent Scholars Grant: Requires applying students to record a high school GPA of at least 3.5 and an ACT score of at least 29 to receive up to $2,500 in aid per year
- Tuition Assistance Grant: Requires applying students to record a high school GPA of at least 2.5 and an ACT score of at least 15 to receive $500 or $1,000 per year
The state offers financial aid for military and public service families as well as need-based scholarships for minorities and other groups.
The state’s two grant programs each serve a unique purpose. The Advanced Placement Incentive Grant offers $500 to high school students who score well on advanced placement tests in mathematics and science.
The Access Missouri Financial Assistance Program, meanwhile, was designed for public school undergraduates who register an EFC of less than $12,000. Students attending a four-year school could receive between $1,500 and $2,800 in aid.
The Nebraska Opportunity Grant is funded by the state but paid out by its schools. Priority is determined by the EFC calculated from your FAFSA. The average award during the 2015-2016 school year was $1,225.27.
To qualify for the state’s Tuition Aid Grant (TAG), students must meet traditional grant requirements, including residing in the state for at least a year. The award varies depending on your school. During the 2017-2018 academic year, students could receive $7,236 at state colleges and universities, for example.
New Mexico offers two annually renewable grants for residents attending public schools in the state:
- College Affordability Grant: For students who don’t qualify for other state gift aid, this grant awards $1,000 per semester.
- Incentive Grant Program: For students with “substantial financial need,” this grant comes with $200 to $2,500 in aid per year.
In 2017, New York became the first state to offer free college tuition via its Excelsior Scholarship program. Even if you qualify for that form of gift aid, it won’t cover room and board.
The state encourages you to visit your school’s financial aid office to learn about its Educational Opportunity Program. To qualify for the grant, a student’s household income is taken into account. A family of four, for example, must earn less than $45,510 to be eligible.
The Aid for Part-Time Study program could be a better fit if you’re going to school with a light course load. It offers up to $2,000 in aid.
The state’s College Foundation of North Carolina instructs resident students to fill out the FAFSA, list out their preferred in-state schools, and wait to hear back. There are no formal applications necessary for its grant offerings.
Depending on your family’s income level and school, you might find yourself receiving aid from these programs:
- NC Community College Grant
- NC Education Lottery Scholarship
- NC Need-Based Grant
- NC Need-Based Scholarship
The North Dakota State Student Incentive Grant delivers up to $975 per semester or $650 per quarter for undergraduate students studying locally. Qualifying students will be notified as long as they completed the FAFSA.
More recently, Ohio’s Department of Natural Resources started its Geological Survey Grant Program. It awards a pair of $1,200 grants to earth science students performing graduate-level research at state schools.
In addition to offering 10 scholarships, the state touts its Oklahoma’s Promise initiative. Formerly known as the Oklahoma Higher Learning Access Program, it offers need-based scholarships for families with income of $55,000 or less. The program helped 18,216 students afford college during the 2015-2016 academic year.
The state’s Office of Student Access and Completion has five grant opportunities, including programs for foster children, children of deceased or disabled public safety officers, and students who are parents.
The office’s other grants include:
- Oregon Opportunity Grant: Students with a sub-$4,000 EFC could receive as much as $2,250 per year. Awards are reserved for the neediest applicants, not the fastest to apply.
- Oregon Promise Grant: Students with a sub-$18,000 EFC could receive between $1,000 and $3,540 toward community college tuition. The student must leave high school with a 2.5 GPA.
Each grant requires filling out the FAFSA, but the state also set up the Oregon Student Aid Application (ORSSA) for undocumented immigrant students living in the state.
Pennsylvania’s grant program offers aid to students based on their family income and choice of school. During the 2017-2018 academic year, recipients could expect to receive between $1,503 and $4,209 per year in aid.
In January 2017, the smallest state in America expanded its RI Promise program to offer all graduating high school students the choice between a free community college education or two years of free education at one of its four-year schools.
Aside from its scholarship and tuition assistance programs, the state’s Commission on Higher Education set up its need-based grant program for undergraduates. Participating public schools determine each recipient’s award after accounting for all other gift aid.
South Dakota’s Needs-Based Grant Program gives 17 schools a share of about $60,000 per year. Each school could award between $500 and $2,000 to low-income students.
There are six unique grant programs among the 20-plus financial aid initiatives run by the Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation. The half-dozen programs include grants for foster children and military veterans. Here are the remaining four grant opportunities:
- Dual Enrollment Grant: High school juniors and seniors taking college courses for credit can receive between $100 and $500 per hour of class.
- HOPE Access Grant: Incoming freshman with a minimum 2.75 GPA and an ACT score of at least 18 to 20 are eligible for per-semester amounts of $1,250 (at four-year schools) and $875 (two-year schools).
- Student Assistance Award: Undergraduates with an EFC below $2,100 could receive up to $4,000 to attend eligible schools.
- Wilder-Naifeh Technical Skills Grant: Students at the Tennessee College of Applied Technology can receive an award of $2,000.
Besides offering need-based scholarships, the state’s higher education board highlights four grant opportunities on its College for All Texans website.
With three grant options for three academic paths, Vermont asks needy applicants to fill out online applications for its awards. Each candidate is considered on a rolling basis, so it’s wise to apply as early as possible.
- Incentive Grant: Undergraduates (and medical school students) could receive between $850 to $12,050 in aid.
- Non-Degree Grant: Non-high school students seeking to further their education or prepare for a career can receive aid.
- Part-Time Grant: Undergraduates (and medical school students) taking fewer than 12 credits per term could receive between $425 and $9,040, depending in part on their course load.
Among the state’s student aid programs, the Virginia Tuition Assistance Grant is notable for residents attending a private school. Undergraduate and graduate students can submit an application to receive as much as $3,300 and $1,650, respectively.
Other grant programs include:
- New Economy Workforce Credential Grant: Students attending a non-credit training program can have up to two-thirds of their tuition covered.
- Optometry Grant Loan Program: Virginia residents enrolled in an optometry program at any approved school nationwide could receive $5,000 per year.
- Two-Year College Transfer Grant: Students with an associate’s degree can qualify for as much as $1,000 to $2,000 when transitioning to qualifying four-year schools.
The State Need Grant available in Washington aims to help the lowest-income students. To be eligible, students must meet certain income requirements. A family of four, for example, must earn $60,500 or less.
In addition to six scholarships, West Virginia houses two grant programs:
- Higher Education Grant: Although it’s a need-based award, applicants must demonstrate academic promise. The grant, which maxed out at $2,700 in 2017, can be used at approved schools in West Virginia or Pennslyvania.
- Higher Education Adult Part-Time Student Grant: Award amounts vary depending on the student’s course load. Adults returning to a four-year school or seeking a certificate or credential for a new career are encouraged to apply.
The state offers a handful of grants that all come with traditional requirements, including being a resident. Not all grants are available at all state schools, however.
Although award amounts are set annually by the state, here are more details about each of the grants:
- Wisconsin Grant: Divided between students attending public and private nonprofit schools, these grants offer between $250 and $3,000 in aid per year.
- Talent Incentive Program (TIP) Grant: Meant for “the most financially needy and educationally disadvantaged Wisconsin resident students,” this grant is worth between $600 and $1,800.
- Indian Student Assistance Grant: Undergraduate and graduate students who are at least a quarter Native American can receive between $250 and $1,100.
- Minority Undergraduate Retention Grant: Minority undergraduates can score between $250 and $2,500.
- Hearing & Visually Handicapped Student Grant: Undergraduate students with significant hearing or visual impairment can qualify for between $250 and $1,800.
The state itself does not offer grants by name. But a program funded by lawmakers and named for former Gov. Stanley Hathaway offers one need-based scholarship for community college and University of Wyoming students.
Applying for state grants for college
If you scanned this far, you might have missed your state. The following four states don’t currently have active, publicly funded grant programs:
- New Hampshire
That’s not to say these states don’t offer resources. Nevada, for example, helps parents save up for their younger children’s college costs by providing matching funds through the Silver State Matching Grant.
But wherever you live, review your state’s aid options. For full details, you could click on the DOE’s map of contact information for each state’s department of education.
You can also go directly to your prospective school. If you are looking for Texas grants for college and are enrolled at Texas State University, for example, you’ll find the financial aid office’s listing of available grants.
Applying for state grants for college is an important step in paying for your education without falling into debt.
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