Going to college can be an exciting prospect. However, low-income people face challenges when it comes to paying for college expenses. If you find yourself in this position, you should know that there is financial aid for low-income families. There are benefit programs and aid packages that can help ease the financial burden of higher education.
Over the years, scholarships and grants for low-income families have proven helpful to many in need of financial assistance. This article is your guide to scholarships, grant funds, and other types of financial aid meant to benefit a wide range of demographics, including scholarships for minority communities and financial aid options for women.
Does FAFSA Help Low-Income Families?
Yes, FAFSA helps low-income families. The US federal government provides numerous federal programs for students from low-income households. Your family income, financial profile, and other important information factors into the calculation of your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) on your student aid report.
How to Find Financial Aid for Low-Income Families
- Federal Pell Grant. The Federal Pell Grant is awarded to undergraduate students with an exceptional need who have yet to earn a bachelor’s degree, graduate degree, or professional degree. Incarcerated candidates and those subject to involuntary civil service after completing a period of incarceration for a sexual offense are not eligible for this financial assistance program.
- Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant. Ideal for education majors, the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant is a federal grant. However, it differs from other federal grants in that candidates must complete teaching obligations to remain eligible. Failure to complete this service obligation will convert the grant to a loan that must be repaid.
- Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG). The financial aid office at each participating school directly administers this program. You can find out if your school offers the FSEOG by checking with the financial aid office. Eligible students receive between $100 and $4,000 depending on their needs and the availability of funds at their school.
- College and university grants and scholarships. Many colleges and universities offer grants and scholarships for low-income students. Harvard University, for example, has a net price calculator that helps determine financial aid. If you prefer other types of educational programs, you can find good grants and scholarships opportunities for coding bootcamps.
- Private scholarships. Many foundations, community organizations, corporations, and non-profit organizations offer scholarships, student aid programs, and grants. These awards, which are known as outside or private scholarships, help students meet the financial challenges of paying for college.
Financial Aid: The Best Scholarships and Grants for Low Income Families
|Scholarship or Grant Name
|Gates Millennium Scholars Program
|Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
|The Greenhouse Scholars Program
|$5,000 with additional flex funding of up to $2,000
|The Hagan Scholarship
|The Hagan Scholarship Foundation
|Horatio Alger National Scholarship
|Horatio Alger Members
|Jack Kent Cooke Foundation
|JuJu Foundation Scholarship
|JuJu Foundation and Bold.org
|Micheal and Susan Dell Foundation
|QuestBridge National College Match Scholarship
|QuestBridge and Partner Universities
|The Ron Brown Scholarship
|Ron Brown Scholar Program
The Best Financial Aid Resources for Low-Income Families
You can find many financial aid resources for low-income students online. However, figuring out which ones are the right fit can be a challenge. You can check out best online schools that offer financial aid. Alternatively, if you’d prefer a traditional educational format, we’ve gone into detail below about some of the best financial aid programs for low-income children.
Gates Millennium Scholars Program | Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
This scholarship is aimed at reducing the financial hardship for students from low-income families and minority communities. It covers the full cost of college for recipients.
Davis-Putter Scholarship | Davis-Putter Fund
The Davis-Putter Fund is a non-profit organization that aims to support students from needy families. They must be heavily involved in movements for economic and social justice. The amount awarded for this scholarship is determined by applicants’ financial needs and available funds but can be as high as $15,000.
The Greenhouse Scholars Program | Greenhouse Scholars
Greenhouse Scholars is a community of diverse leaders who use education to transform communities around the world. The organization empowers promising students with the resources that they need to create long-lasting change in their lives and those of others. Eligible persons must be US citizens and permanent residents of Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, New York, or North Carolina.
The Hagan Scholarship | The Hagan Scholarship Foundation
This need-based scholarship assists rural students by helping them graduate from college without debt. Over $48,000 is provided to cover education for four years. Eligible candidates must be graduates of one of the 6,300 public high schools on The Hagan Scholarship Foundation’s list of eligible schools.
Horatio Alger National Scholarship | Horatio Alger Members
The Horatio Alger National Scholarship is one of the largest need-based college scholarship programs in the US. Every year, 106 applicants are awarded $25,000. The scholarship is open to students across all 50 states. All awarded recipients must attend the National Scholars Conference to receive it.
JKC Scholarships | Jack Kent Cooke Foundation
This scholarship program is designed to encourage and support students who have distinguished themselves in their fields but need financial assistance. The scholarship offers eligible students support in high school as well as undergraduates and graduate students.
JuJu Foundation Scholarship | JuJu Foundation and Bold.org
JuJu Foundation partners with Bold.org to help academically talented, low-income students achieve their dreams of getting a post-secondary education. Four students from eligible families are awarded $5,000 scholarships each. The scholarship is open to US high school students and undergraduates from low-income families.
Dell Scholars | Michael and Susan Dell Foundation
The Dell Scholars Program supports students facing economic challenges that prevent them from pursuing a college degree. Aside from the cash assistance, students will receive a laptop with a four-year warranty and $500 worth of Chegg credits every year to cover rentals or textbook purchases. Dell seeks students from low-income families for this program.
QuestBridge National College Match Scholarship | QuestBridge and Partner Universities
The QuestBridge National College Match Scholarship is one of the most generous scholarships for low-income college students. Questbridge awards this scholarship to students attending one of the colleges on its list of partner schools. The award covers the full cost of college tuition or up to $200,000.
The Ron Brown Scholarship | Ron Brown Scholar Program
RBSP awards between 45 and 50 four-year scholarships of $40,000 at $10,000 per year to talented, economically disadvantaged high school seniors. The candidates must show an interest in community engagement, public service, business entrepreneurship, and global citizenship. This scholarship is strictly for Black high school seniors who are US citizens or permanent residents.
Schools That Offer Financial Aid for Low-Income Families
Amherst College seeks to meet 100 percent of the financial needs of both local and international students from needy families. This school awards up to $50 million in scholarships every year. This helps students to pay their way through college without having to worry about being swamped by student loans.
Columbia University meets 100 percent of the demonstrated need of transfer and first-year students. Students who come from families with a calculated income of less than $60,000 annually do not have to contribute to the cost of attendance. Columbia University aims to help all its students to achieve their goal of getting a world-class education irrespective of their circumstances.
Duke University meets 100 percent of the financial needs of all its admitted students who have demonstrated needs. Students from families with a combined income of below $60,000 are not expected to pay for college costs out of pocket. Fifty-two percent of Duke University students do not pay full tuition.
According to the university’s website, 20 percent of Harvard University students pay nothing because the school meets 100 percent of the demonstrated financial needs of those students. Financial aid is provided to those who need it most. Students whose families have an annual income of less than $65,000 do not pay anything out of pocket.
Yale University meets 100 percent of the financial needs of students from low-income families. Based on family size, families with a total gross income of less than $75,000 are not expected to make any contributions toward the education of their child at Yale. At Yale, hundreds of families of undergraduate students have no expected parental contribution.
Yale reviews all applications for financial aid and awards deserving applicants based on financial need. Students who qualify for this financial aid can receive a need-based scholarship that can range from a few thousand dollars to well over $65,000 per year. Applying for financial aid will not make it more difficult for you to get accepted into this Ivy League school.
Should You Apply for Financial Aid for Low-Income Families?
Yes, you should apply for financial aid for low-income families if you’re having concerns about being able to afford post-secondary education. Aside from tuition, there are other costs associated with higher education such as housing expenses, meal plans, student fees, and textbooks. Low-income students can apply for a financial aid package to ease the cost burden.
Financial Aid for Low-Income Families FAQ
Each financial aid program has its own criteria for defining low-income families. For some institutions like Harvard University, a family with a total annual income of $65,000 or below is considered low income.
There is no income cutoff for FAFSA. Your eligibility for federal student aid will depend on many factors.
The most common form of financial aid is federal loans and low-income grants. All high school seniors are encouraged to apply for FAFSA. FAFSA is awarded to millions of people each year.
Yes, low-income families can get other types of assistance from the government. Other government programs help low-income Americans and families with living expenses, dental care, health care, energy bills, monthly food benefits, and unemployment insurance. Programs include the SNAP program for food stamps, Medicaid for medical care, SSI for social security, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and the TANF program for temporary assistance.
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