Grants for education come in many forms. There are Federal government grants, such as Pell grants, grants from alumni associations, grants from non-profit foundations, grants for specific fields, such as agriculture and science, and grants to support doctoral dissertations to list just a few.
Qualifications for education grants can be based on financial need, disability, gender, or even shortages in particular fields. If you have an interest in a particular career path, the chances are better than average that you can find a grant that fits that course of study.
When looking for education grants, start first with schools you might want to attend. Be sure you make it clear that you are seeking grant funding, not a scholarship or student loan. Grants for education do not have to be paid back, and starting your career without debt means you will receive the full value of your education in earning power more quickly.
Grant cycles, i.e., the time of the year when funds are available, vary from once a year to rolling periods that usually coincide with semesters. Don’t wait until two weeks before school starts to look for education grants. This funding was always very competitive, and with student loans becoming harder to get (due to the high delinquency rate) it will only become harder to access. Student counselors in high schools often recommend starting your search as early as your sophomore year, and you probably should start at least six months in advance of the beginning of the next school year at the latest.
When researching education grants, you may want to define your search in terms of your desired degree. If you are not sure what your major will be, or you have two or three things in mind, research the employment outlooks for those fields. The U.S. Department of Labor and state labor departments often post forecasts for various occupations that you can access online.
If you want to progress further in your field, look for post-secondary education grants. Occupations such as teaching, nursing, and accounting are particularly likely to offer grants for education through industry-affiliated foundations.