Finding grant money to fund your college education is a matter of being savvy and tenacious. Because you are a unique individual and many grants are geared towards specifically qualified recipients, it behooves you to explore both niche grants while expanding your applicant's gaze to larger, general grants. There are so many types of funding available, so strive for efficiency. Work hard at the grant applications you have the highest chance of winning while still casting a wide enough net to increase your odds.
The quickest way to uncover grant possibilities is on the Internet. A number of general databases list both national and regional grants along with the information you'll need to apply. You may be surprised at the sheer number of grants available to entering college students and using search options to narrow down your results makes the process more manageable. If you fall within certain subcategories, you may be eligible for specifically allocated funding. Common examples are grants for women, grants for low-income students or for students who are the first in their families to attend college, or grants for those with certain illnesses. There are also national and regional grants for college bound students. The largest national grant program is the Pell Grant and nearly all states have some form of funding available to residents.
Grant money can also be found in unlikely places. For example, a number of churches offer funding to their parishioners. If you have a local church representative, speak with them about what kind of help they can offer. The same is true for a variety of organizations, like the Future Farmers of America and the National Society of Accountants. In these cases it literally pays to solidify your future professional goals. If you know what field you would like to study, affiliated professional organizations can help pay for your education. To pursue these grant opportunities, consider a path of study and seek out information on the Internet or in your library about these associations.
Grants are also awarded to those with special skills or talents. Athletic or artistic grants are primary examples. If you are an athlete and would like to continue your training in college, speak with your current coach or mentor about possible funding. The National Collegiate Athletic Association offers a number of funding opportunities. Talent grants also extend to artists, mathematicians, and musicians. If you are currently proficient in a particular skill, like photography, research grants for budding photographers. You can do this online, by reading photography magazines, or contacting photography instructors at your local or future college.
Some grant opportunities become available only after you have been accepted to a college or university. A financial aid counselor will be able to help you with any funding questions you have. Many schools have scholarships for incoming freshmen; you need only ask about the requirements and pay special attention to deadlines. If you are an underrepresented member of the student body, like a woman or a minority, there may be additional grant opportunities at your future school as an incentive for attendance.
It is clear that there is a grant out there for almost anyone as long as you search with specific intent. For example, if you are a Hispanic woman, apply for grants geared at your demographic, but also apply for more general funding, such as the Pell Grant. Your unique identity is an advantage when applying for funding, but be sure you have enough lines in the water to catch all the fish you need.