As with state sponsored scholarships, state sponsored grants will be awarded either
directly by your college or state-based program to help you fund your college education.
State sponsored grants will often recognize need as a criterion, although there
are many that look at specific student characteristics, such as whether a student
is a minority, or a student’s intended field of study. State sponsored grants based
on merit will look at a student’s academic achievement in high school, a high GPA
and impressive standardized test scores, while state-based organizations may award
grants based simply on a student’s association with a particular group. Contact
state-based educational organizations, local higher education assistance foundations,
your high school and your intended college for up-to-date state-based grant opportunities.
Many scholarships are also grouped by state, and easily found through our scholarship
Fund Your Future
Most colleges will have grant and scholarship funds set up that disperse awards
only to students attending that college. Grants from your college, especially if
it’s a state college, will often consider need before any other student-specific
characteristics. The Michigan Educational Opportunity Grant, modeled after the Federal
Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, is restricted to eligible Michigan residents
enrolled at least half-time on Michigan campuses who are also Pell Grant recipients.
Recipients of the California Student Aid Commission’s Cal Grants may get up to $9,700
a year to pay for college expenses at any qualifying California college, university
or career or technical school in California.
Most of these state sponsored grants will require that you fill out a Free Application
for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, to determine whether you’re eligible as many
will be need-based. Chances are if you quality for the Federal Pell Grant, which
is the most popular federal grant among undergraduates, you’ll be eligible for a
state sponsored grant through your college.
Consider Your Local Options
If you plan on staying in state for school, you could be eligible for grants from
your state, especially if you’re going into a field that is particularly in demand
locally. Be aware that state sponsored grants that are also career specific may
require that you remain in that state for several years after you graduate, as your
"thanks" for receiving an often generous award package. If you’re not sure where
you’d like to be after you graduate, weigh you options carefully before accepting
a grant with those kinds of requirements, as the free money you receive may become
a student loan if you don’t follow through with your end of the deal.
The Illinois Future Teacher Corps (IFTC) Program, for example, is available to juniors
and above who want to be teachers in Illinois, especially in districts with high
teacher turnover rates. Priority is given to individuals pursuing a teacher shortage
discipline, making a commitment to teach at a hard-to-staff school, and minority
applicants. Qualified applicants of this grant may receive between $5,000 and $10,000
depending on the teaching commitment made. If the commitment to teach in Illinois
isn’t fulfilled, however, the scholarship converts to a loan.
The North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority provides awards to hundreds
of aspiring nurses annually as part of its Nurse Scholars Program to address the
nursing shortage in the state. The renewable award is merit-based, and the amount
of the award is based upon the type of nursing education being pursued. Students
seeking an associate’s, for example, may be eligible for up to $3,000. Students
must plan to enter a nursing program at one of the North Carolina colleges, universities,
or hospitals that offer nurse education programs, and also sign a contract to work
as a registered nurse in North Carolina post-graduation.
Don’t stop at state sponsored grants when looking locally to fund your college education.
There are also many state scholarships out there. While some, like grants, require
residence and employment in that state after you graduate if you go for a career-specific
grant, many only require that you attend their colleges and universities. Browse
through our list of state scholarships to see awards you may qualify for, and try
a free scholarship search to see awards based on other criteria that you may qualify