Who doesn’t want free grant money? We all could use some extra cash, but how do you get free grant money? And what is a grant, specifically?
There are several types of grants. Many people are familiar with college grants. Students can apply for grants from private corporations like Degree4 or go for government grants.
Free Grant Money for Students
The Pell Grant, named after former Rhode Island Sen. Claiborne Pell, provides up to several thousand dollars per year to selected students with financial hardships.
The College Grants Database lists many available grants students can apply for. Among them:
- Grants for those with illnesses or diseases — Battling a disease or illness makes saving for college all that much harder. Special grants for those who suffer from various conditions are available.
- Grants for those with certain ethnic or racial backgrounds — African-Americans and Native Americans are two examples of groups that have historically faced discrimination and other hardships based on their race. Some grant money is earmarked for such groups.
- Grants for those willing to exchange service for money — Areas with shortages in particular service professions, such as doctors, dentists or teachers, are sometimes willing to help fund an individual’s education in exchange for the student agreeing to work in that area for a specified period of time after graduation. These are often rural or high-poverty areas, so carefully consider accepting this type of grant if such areas do not appeal to you.
Free Grant Money from the Government
Government grants may be federal- or state-issued. Grants.gov explains what grants are and allows you to search for grants you may be eligible for. In short, government grants provide money to groups and individuals seeking funding for certain projects or endeavors.
Anyone wishing to receive a grant must fill out the application and fulfill the requirements of the grantor. This is often no small feat, as “grant writer” is a profession in itself. Some grant writers are paid by the hour, some get a flat rate and some get a portion of the grant, should they win the funding.
Regardless of how they are paid, grant writers are usually required to submit proof of their abilities in the form of a win percentage rate.
While many grants are tied to health care, education, culture, inventions and other service and social service pursuits, some grants are available to help people with challenges like paying bills.
Free Grant Money to Pay Bills
It seems too good to be true to receive free grant money to pay rent, utilities or other bills, but some circumstances allow for funding for these purposes. They may not fit the traditional format of a grant, but free money is free money, regardless of what the program to secure it is called.
The Lifeline Program offers grants to low-income people to fund landline telephones. The program’s philosophy is that phones are critical in an emergency situation, and are also important in helping people find jobs and stay connected to supportive family members.
Help is available with medical bills. While these programs don’t fit the traditional grant application format, they are still free money that is earmarked for a particular purpose. CHIP (The Children’s Health Insurance Program) and Medicaid help patients pay medical bills. If you have already incurred steep medical bills, you can sometimes negotiate with the provider to pay less over time. However, if you are uninsured and cannot afford to pay for insurance, CHIP and Medicaid may be the answer for you.
If you’re not sure if you can afford to pay for health insurance, check out the options at Healthcare.gov. An online calculator can tell you quickly if you are eligible for a subsidy based on your income and how many people you are supporting with it.
Medicare may also be of help to you as well. We think of Medicare as a type of health insurance for the elderly, but the truth is that it is available to younger Americans who meet certain qualifications, such as having a disability.
The high cost of prescription drugs is no secret. What is less well-known, however, is that assistance is available to help pay for medically necessary prescriptions. Check out Healthfinder.gov for a list of resources.
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, formerly known as welfare, provides free money to qualifying families to pay for necessities like food, clothing, and shelter. Each state operates its own TANF, often under different names. You can select your state on the TANF website and it will direct you on how to apply for benefits in your area and help you determine if you are eligible.
LIHEAP, the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, helps residents pay their heating or cooling bills. If you have had your electricity or gas shut off or are in danger of having it shut off, LIHEAP can make a one-time payment on your behalf. This program also helps pay for weatherization improvements to your residence to help cut down on energy bills.
HUD, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, provides what is known as Section 8 housing to qualifying individuals. Under this program, residents pay a portion of their rent and the government pays the rest. In some cities, the list of eligible residents is long, and some can wait years for the opportunity to live in such housing. However, your city or town may be different. It is worth looking into and at least getting on the list.
Grants are also available for women-owned businesses. Housing is expensive, and rents can often be as high as a mortgage payment, but renting does not provide the investment of home ownership, nor the mortgage interest tax credit.
It can be difficult to save enough for a down payment, though. Without a down payment, homeowners are forced to pay higher interest rates, plus private mortgage insurance. These extra expenses work against the struggling homeowner, increasing the chances of failure and foreclosure. A down payment grant can help ensure success.
Free Grant Money for Minorities
Certain members of groups that are disadvantaged or discriminated against may be eligible for grants to start their own businesses. Entrepreneur has a list of grants for women-owned businesses. The Small Business Administration provides grants to veteran-owned businesses, and they have a separate program for disabled veteran-owned businesses. The Minority Business Development Agency provides helpful information about available grants for minority-owned businesses.
Many large corporations, businesses, and other for-profit corporations provide free grant money for a variety of purposes, including training, education, health, environmental research and more. If you are in need of funding to help pay for either personal or business-related expenses, it’s worth it to check out some of these programs, or type your specifics into a search engine and see what comes back.
It’s always worth it to take advantage of the free grant money offered by the government or private institutions. To learn more about saving and making money, sign up for our newsletter now!