Federal Pell Grant

    A Federal Pell Grant, unlike a loan, does not have to be repaid. Pell Grants are only awarded to undergraduate students who have not earned a bachelor’s or professional degree. (A professional degree would include a degree in a field such as pharmacy or dentistry.) For many students, Pell Grants provide a foundation of financial aid to which other aid may be added.

How do I qualify?

    To determine if you’re eligible, the U.S. Department of Education uses a standard formula, established by Congress, to evaluate the information you report when you apply. The formula produces an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) number. Your Student Aid Report (SAR) contains this number and will tell you if you’re eligible.

How will I be paid?

    Your school can either credit the Pell Grant funds to your account, pay you directly (usually by check), or combine these methods. The school must tell you in writing how and when you’ll be paid and how much your award will be. You can then either accept or decline the award; do this in writing, for the school’s records. Schools must pay you at least once per term (semester, trimester, or quarter). Schools that do not use formally defined, traditional terms must pay you at least twice per academic year.




Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants

    A Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) is for undergraduates with exceptional financial need, that is, students with the lowest Expected Family Contributions (EFCs), and gives priority to students who receive Federal Pell Grants. An FSEOG doesn’t have to be paid back.


State Grants

All states maintain extensive programs of grants, scholarships, tuition assistance, fee reductions and loans. Last year, 1.63 million students received over $2.2 billion in need-based state aid and 231,734 shared in $255 million of non-need-based aid.

Eligibility for State-based Student Aid

States determine eligibility for need-based aid in one of four ways:
(1) Twenty-five states use only the federal methodology;
(2) Thirteen states use the federal methodology for most of their grants and the institutional methodology (or some other hybrid methodology) for a few other programs;
(3) Some states let the student’s school make the decision regarding eligibility;
(4) Eleven states have their own system– Delaware, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Washington.

A Summary of State Programs

Here are some you should ask about when you write to your state’s Higher Education Coordinating Board.


Grants for In-State Study.

Every state offers need-based grants to its resident undergraduates. Most of these grants are funded with help from Uncle Sam’s State Student Incentive Grant (SSIG).

Grants for Out-of-State Study.

Some states have signed reciprocity agreements with other states to offer need-based grant programs to out-of-state undergraduates.

Merit Programs.

Generally, there are three kinds of merit programs.
The first type is based on financial need; however, there is an academic threshold you must attain (such as a B average) to be eligible.
The second program is based on academic accomplishment. But you must demonstrate financial need to qualify for a monetary award, otherwise, your recognition will be honorary.
The last type of program is based solely on academic accomplishment. Your award is not affected by your financial situation.

Special Loans.

Some states offer loans that are separate from any federal programs. For all these plans, the loan money is usually secured through tax-exempt bonds issued by the state. In some cases, out-of-state students attending a school in the state underwriting the loans may benefit from the low rates.

Teaching Scholarships.

To increase the supply of teachers, many states have instituted special loan programs for students willing to become teachers, with “forgiveness” features if the students actually end up in classrooms. If the students don’t go into teaching, they must repay the aid. Some programs limit their benefits to students who teach in a shortage area. This could mean a subject area like math or science. It could also mean a geographic area like rural America or the inner-city. These programs are usually in addition to the Paul Douglas Teacher Scholarship.

Special Field Scholarships.

This category covers a variety of programs designed to increase representation in other fields in which the state believes it has shortages. These fields may include medicine, nursing, special education, bilingual education, etc. Many graduate programs are included in this category.

Minority Programs.

Many states have awards for minority students. Beneficiaries must usually be African-American, Latino or Native American (Eskimo, Indian, or Aleutian).


Some states operate programs similar to the federal work-study or cooperative education programs.


Some states give benefits to state residents who served in the Armed Forces, usually during periods of hostilities.

National Guard.

Some states give educational benefits to residents who serve in the state’s National Guard. These are in addition to federal benefits.


Some states give benefits to state residents who are dependents of deceased or disabled veterans, or POWs, MIAs, or police/firefighters killed on duty.

Military Dependents.

Some states let military personnel and their dependents stationed within the state’s borders, attend in-state universities at in-state tuition rates.

Tuition Savings Plans.

To encourage early planning for college costs, many states allow families to purchase “Baccalaureate Bonds,” the income from which is tax exempt if used to pay college expenses. A second type of savings plan is the “Prepaid Tuition Plan” in which parents can guarantee four years of tuition at any of the state’s public (or in some cases, private) colleges by making a lump sum investment or periodic payments. The amount depends on the child’s date of entry into college and the degree of flexibility parents desire in withdrawing funds. While sophisticated investors can probably achieve a greater return than in either of these plans, the fact is, most families are not comfortable playing investment games. They want an easy way to guarantee they’ll have enough money for their children’s education, and these plans do work!

Tuition Equalization.

These programs reduce the difference in tuition costs between in state public and private colleges. Examples: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Vermont and Virginia. Last year, these states made grants worth well over $107 million.

Grant Programs I.

Most states provide special assistance to students attending private colleges in state. Such awards are need based.

Grant Programs II.

Some states provide need-based assistance to residents attending schools out-of-state. Examples: Alaska, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Free Scholarship Search.

Alabama, Florida, Maine and Vermont offer state residents (free) individualized lists of potential financial aid sources.

Discounts for Senior Citizens.

Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, South Carolina, Vermont, and Wyoming all give tuition discounts to seniors. Some states waive tuition entirely. Eligibility varies from state to state, but generally, students must be state residents aged 60+ and attend state schools. Sometimes the discount is given to students only on a space available basis.

Community College Partnerships.

Many states are creating partnerships between two- and four-year colleges to help make the transition seamless. Sometimes students are guaranteed admission to the four-year school. Sometimes they’re offered additional aid opportunities (and sometimes they are just given guidance on course selection). For example, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Community Service Opportunities.

Many states were way ahead of the community service bandwagon. Some are tied in to AmeriCorps–Colorado, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, and Vermont; others are funding their own– Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and North Carolina.

Innovative State Programs

Be on the lookout for these. There is a lot of action on the state level–some of which will result in important new programs (and some which will be allowed to fizzle).

New York:

Liberty Scholarships would pay the non-tuition costs of low income families who attend school in New York. Liberty Partnerships would provide them with counseling and tutoring. This program may finally get funded for 1995.


Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally (HOPE) will ensure that every qualified (3.0 GPA or better) graduate of a GA high school with a family income under $100,000 will receive a grant to cover 45 credit hours (in-state tuition, fees and books) at any GA public school. State residents attending tech schools or private colleges in Georgia qualify for some assistance as well. The program is funded by the Lottery for Education. For more information (in Georgia), call 800-546-HOPE.


Tuition Incentive Program (TIP). Low income students can get free tuition at community colleges. Those who complete community college are eligible for a $2,000 voucher for use at any of Michigan’s four year colleges.


College Savings Bonds. Illinois was the first state to encourage families to save for college expenses via tax-exempt (non-callable) zero coupon bonds. In Illinois, bond holders can also receive a Bonus Incentive Grant (BIG).


Vermont Value Loan Program reduces the principal balance on the Stafford and PLUS by 1% during each year of repayment.

Arkansas, Louisiana, Indiana, and Virginia:

In Arkansas, they’re called Academic Challenge Scholarships. In Indiana, they’re called Twenty-First Century Scholars. They all have similar themes: States guarantee to pay in-state tuition for low-income students who make certain commitments. For example, the student must maintain a specified GPA in college prep courses and remain drug free.


Maine residents attending out-of-state schools, and out-of-state students attending Maine schools can take out a “Super Loan” at 1% below the current Stafford rate. The program is available through 39 participating lenders.

Virginia and Texas:

Special incentive grants to induce students of one racial group to attend a state public university in which another racial group makes up a significant proportion of the student body.

Colorado, Florida and Minnesota: Colorado’s Postsecondary Options Plan, Florida’s Dual Enrollment Plan and Minnesota’s Postsecondary Enrollment Options Act allow public HS students to take courses at no charge at any college in the state that will admit them (the Florida program is restricted to state schools). Students receive both high school and college credit for their work.

Directory of State Agencies


    • 205-281-1921


    • AL Commission on Higher Education


    • 3465 Norman Bridge Road


    • Montgomery, AL 36105-2310



    • 907-465-2854


    • Commission on Postsecondary Ed.


    • 3030 Vintage Blvd.


    • Juneau, AK 99801



    • 602-229-2593


    • Commission for Postsecondary Ed.


    • 2020 N. Central Avenue, #275


    • Phoenix, AZ 85004



    • 501-324-9300


    • Department of Higher Education


    • 114 E. Capitol St.


    • Little Rock, AR 72201



    • 916-445-0880


    • CA Postsecondary Ed. Commission


    • 1303 J. Street, #500


    • Sacramento, CA 95814



    • 303-866-2723


    • Commission on Higher Education


    • 1300 Broadway, 2nd Floor


    • Denver, CO 80203



    • 203-566-2618


    • Department of Higher Education


    • 61 Woodland Street


    • Hartford, CT 06105



    • 302-577-3240


    • Higher Education Commission


    • 820 N. French Street


    • Wilmington, DE 19801


District of Columbia

    • 202-727-3685


    • DC Office of Postsecondary Education


    • 2100 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave., SE


    • Washington, DC 20020



    • 904-488-4095


    • Office of Student Financial Assistance


    • Department of Education


    • 1344 Florida Education Center


    • Tallahassee, FL 32399



    • 404-414-3000


    • Georgia Student Finance Authority


    • 2082 East Exchange Place, #200


    • Tucker, GA 30084



    • 808-948-8213


    • Postsecondary Ed Commission


    • Bachman Hall, Room 209


    • 2444 Dole Street


    • Honolulu, HI 96822



    • 208-334-2270


    • State Board of Education


    • 650 West State Street


    • Boise, ID 83720



    • 217-782-3442


    • IL State Board of Higher Education


    • #4 West Old Capitol Plaza


    • Springfield, IL 62701



    • 317-232-2350


    • State Student Assistance Comm.


    • 150 West Market St., 5th floor


    • Indianapolis, IN 46204



    • 515-242-6703


    • Iowa College Aid Commission


    • 914 Grand Ave., #201


    • Des Moines, IA 50309



    • 913-296-3517


    • Board of Regents, State of Kansas


    • Suite 609, Capitol Tower


    • 400 SW 8th Street


    • Topeka, KS 66603



    • 502-564-7990


    • Higher Ed. Assistance Authority


    • 1050 US 127 South, Suite 102


    • West Frankfort Office Complex


    • Frankfort, KY 40601-4323



    • 504-922-1011


    • Student Financial Assistance Comm.


    • PO Box 91202


    • Baton Rouge, LA 70821-9202



    • 207-287-2183


    • Maine Ed. Assistance Division


    • State House Station, #119


    • One Weston Court


    • Augusta, ME 04330



    • 410-974-5370


    • MD Higher Ed. Commission


    • State Scholarship Administration


    • 16 Francis Street


    • Annapolis, MD 21401



    • 617-727-9420


    • Higher Ed. Coordinating Council


    • Room 1401, McCormack Bldg.


    • One Ashton Place


    • Boston, MA 02108



    • 517-373-3394


    • Higher Ed Assistance Authority


    • PO Box 30008


    • Lansing, MI 48909



    • 612-296-3974


    • Higher Ed. Coordinating Board


    • Capitol Square Building, #400


    • 550 Cedar Street


    • St. Paul, MN 55101



    • 601-982-6570


    • Board of Trustees of State


    • Institutions of Higher Learning


    • Student Financial Aid


    • 3825 Ridgewood Road


    • Jackson, MS 39211-6453



    • 314-751-2361


    • Coordinating Board for Higher Ed.


    • 3515 Amazonas Drive


    • Jefferson City, MO 65109



    • 406-444-6594


    • Board of Regents for Higher Education


    • 2500 Broadway


    • Helena, MT 59620



    • Contact Individual Schools Directly



    • 702-687-5915


    • State Department of Education


    • 400 West King Street


    • Capitol Complex


    • Carson City, NV 89710


New Hampshire

    • 603-271-2555


    • Postsecondary Ed. Commission


    • 2 Industrial Park Drive


    • Concord, NH 03301-8512


New Jersey

    • 609-588-3268, 800-792-8670


    • Higher Education Commission


    • Office of Student Assistance


    • 4 Quakerbridge Plaza, CN 540


    • Trenton, NJ 08625


New Mexico

    • 505-827-7383


    • Commission on Higher Education


    • 1068 Cerrillos Road


    • Santa Fe, NM 87501


New York

    • 518-473-0431


    • Higher Ed. Services Commission


    • One Commerce Plaza


    • Albany, NY 12255


North Carolina

    • 919-549-8614


    • State Ed. Assistance Authority


    • PO Box 2688


    • Chapel Hill, NC 27515


North Dakota

    • 701-224-4114


    • ND State Board of Higher Ed.


    • Student Assistance Program


    • 600 East Boulevard


    • Bismark, ND 58505



    • 614-466-7420


    • OH Student Aid Commission


    • PO Box 182452


    • Columbus, OH 43218-2452



    • 405-522-4356


    • Oklahoma State Regents for


    • Higher Ed


    • 500 Education Building


    • State Capitol Complex


    • Oklahoma City, OK 73105



    • 503-687-7385


    • State Scholarship Commission


    • 1500 Valley River Drive, #100


    • Eugene, OR 97401



    • 717-257-2800, (PA) 800-692-7435


    • Higher Education Assistance Agency


    • Town House, 660 Boas Street


    • Harrisburg, PA 17102


Rhode Island

    • 401-277-2050


    • Higher Education Assistance Authority


    • 560 Jefferson Boulevard


    • Warwick, RI 02886


South Carolina

    • 803-737-2265


    • SC Commission on Higher Education


    • 1333 Main Street, #200


    • Columbia, SC 29201


South Dakota

    • 605-773-3134


    • Office of the Secretary


    • Department of Education and


    • Cultural Affairs


    • 700 Governors Drive


    • Pierre, SD 57501-2291



    • 615-741-1346, TN 800-342-1663


    • TN Student Assistance Corporation


    • 404 James Robertson Parkway


    • Parkway Towers, Suite 1950


    • Nashville, TN 37243-0820



    • 512-483-6331


    • Higher Education Coordinating Board


    • Box 12788, Capitol Station


    • Austin, TX 78711



    • 801-538-5247


    • Utah State Board of Regents


    • 335 W.N. Temple, 3 Triad, Suite 550


    • Salt Lake City, UT 84180-1205



    • 802-655-9602


    • Vermont Student Assistance Corp.


    • Champlain Mill, Box 2000


    • Winooski, VT 05404



    • 804-225-2623


    • Council of Higher Education


    • James Monroe Building


    • 101 North 14th Street


    • Richmond, VA 23219



    • 206-586-6404


    • Higher Education Coordinating Board


    • 917 Lake Ridge Way, GV-11


    • Olympia, WA 98504


West Virginia

    • 304-347-1211


    • Higher Education Grant Program


    • PO Box 4007


    • Charleston, WV 25364



    • 608-267-2206


    • State of Wisconsin Higher


    • Educational Aids Board


    • PO Box 7885


    • Madison, WI 53707



    • 307-766-2116


    • University of Wyoming


    • Student Financial Aid


    • Box 3335, University Station


    • Laramie, WY 82071-3335



    • 617-734-2921, x3657


    • Financial Aid Office


    • University of Guam


    • Mangilao, Guam 96923


Puerto Rico

    • 809-758-3350


    • Council on Higher Education


    • Box 23305, UPR Station


    • Rio Piedras, PR 00931


Virgin Islands

    • 809-774-4546


    • Board of Education


    • Commandant Gade, OV #11


    St. Thomas, VI 00801