Those Critical Last College Years Can Benefit From Grants!


Sometimes Pell Grants just aren’t enough. That’s why the Federal government has been busy financing supplemental grants in order to get more students into institutions of higher learning, whether on campus or online schools. This can become especially critical in a student’s junior or senior years, when the ability to do work-study can be seriously decreased because of the additional academic workloads of those last few years.

A recent addition to these programs is the Science & Mathematics Access to Retain Talent (aka SMART) grant. Created in 2006, the SMART Grant is awarded based on need, much like the Pell. As such, a FASFA form must be completed in order to get one. One of the benefits is the same FASFA form can be used for both grants. It is awarded in addition to the student’s Pell Grant award.

This grant is only available to students who are majoring in physical, life, computer sciences, mathematics, technology, engineering, a critical foreign language, or non-major single liberal arts programs. One can find out exactly what curricula are appropriate by going to the Board of Education’s website. Also, applicants must be enrolled in the courses necessary to complete their selected degree program. In addition, the student must maintain a grade point average of at least 3.0 in course work required for the major. If you need more information about online degree grant, look on the internet.

The grant will provide up to $4,000 for each of the third through fifth years of undergraduate study. The amount, when combined with a Pell Grant, may not exceed the student’s cost of attendance. To be eligible, the student must also be a U.S. citizen or legal resident.

The ‘being enrolled in a degree-applicable course’ is an important proviso. There must be at least one such course in every semester. A senior who had fulfilled all his degree-appropriate courses first, planning to just coast on non-appropriate electives the last semester is NOT qualified for a SMART Grant. As such, grant beneficiaries are advised to take another curriculum-appropriate class, even if it’s not needed to graduate.

It is critical to stay up to date with this program. It is reviewed every year, often with modifications made to it. For instance, when the grant was first created, it did not recognize “home-schooled” or overseas students. Now it does. Further changes would not be unexpected. There is an abundance of information about distance learning degree program on the web.

What an applicant should do is get in contact with their selected school’s financial aid officer about this program (as well as any others they might qualify for). It’s the officer’s job to stay on top of these programs and help the applicant through the process. It also doesn’t hurt for a student to do a little homework on their own. A good place to start is the U.S. Board of Education.

Yet when push comes to shove, those attending on campus and online schools need to note that what is really important is there is extra assistance in addition to the standard Pell Grant , especially for students about to enter those critical final years.


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