As you learn more about how to pay for school, you’ll come across grants, a form of financial aid that’s typically need-based. Grants are similar to scholarships in that you usually don’t have to pay back the amount following graduation. Yet, differences exist between these two types of student aid.
Whether you’re starting the financial aid process now or evaluating your award, understand what grants are and common programs available.
How Do Financial Aid Grants Work?
Grants are typically offered by the U.S. Department of Education, as well as state agencies, academic institutions and other organizations. As a form of financial aid, grants don’t need to be repaid except for in select instances and are generally awarded based on a student’s or their family’s calculated financial need.
- How are grants determined?: Your or your family’s demonstrated financial need in relation to costs for the University of Central Oklahoma determines eligibility for most grant programs. Not all grants are need-based, however, and awards may acknowledge your academic achievements, leadership, musical or artistic talent or community service. Your financial aid package will indicate if you’ve been awarded a grant and its specific terms for eligibility.
- Do grants need to be repaid?: Generally, the answer is no. Unlike loans, grants don’t accrue interest or require you to make payments upon disbursement or following the completion of your studies. However, in select instances, you may be expected to pay all or part of the funds allocated to you. These include withdrawing before completing an enrollment period or not fulfilling specified service obligations. In both cases, you will be notified if you need to start repaying your grant.
- How do I apply for a grant?: Because most grants for college students are based on their or their family’s financial need, you are advised to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by the Oct. 1 deadline.
- What do grants cover?: Just as with other forms of financial aid, grants go toward your tuition and fees and may additionally assist with related educational costs, such as books and supplies.
- How are grants different from other forms of financial aid?: Scholarships are frequently merit-based, awarding academic, athletic or leadership achievements. Select loans take need into account but must be repaid after a certain point. Grants, by contrast, primarily place financial need first and only need to be repaid in specified instances.
Note: For federal and state grant eligibility, the student enrollment level at the time of the add/drop deadline for each semester will be used for grant calculation and eligibility.
Types of Federal Grants for College Students
Federal Pell Grant
Pell Grants are awarded only to undergraduate students—those who have not earned a bachelor's or graduate degree. The amount of a Pell Grant depends on the student's cost of attendance, Expected Family Contribution (EFC) number and enrollment status (full or part time). The student must be accepted into a degree-seeking major or eligible certificate program.
Along with standard Pell Grants, students may be eligible for Academic Competitiveness Grants, which are geared toward federal Pell Grant recipients who attended an academically rigorous high school program recognized by the Secretary of Education. National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent (SMART) Grants may be awarded to students entering their third or fourth academic year who are enrolled in a plan of study related to an in-demand career path or industry.
Year-Round Pell Grants | Summer 2021
Pell-eligible students enrolled full time in fall 2020/spring 2021 may be eligible for summer Pell Grants, based on the following criteria:
- A completed 2020-21 FAFSA and are Pell eligible;
- A completed a 2021 summer application;
- Satisfactory academic progress;
- You must be enrolled half-time/six or more credits and attend the courses; and,
- You must have lifetime Pell limit eligibility remaining for summer.
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)
The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) program is for undergraduates with exceptional financial need. Pell Grant recipients with the lowest expected family contributions (EFCs) are considered first for an FSEOG. Eligible students may receive between $100 and $4,000 a year, depending on when they apply, their financial need, the funding at the school attended and the policies of the school’s financial aid office.
Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant (TEACH)
This grant opportunity is for students who plan to teach in a high-need field at schools that serve low-income students. There is a $16,000 total undergraduate maximum with an additional $8,000 total for graduate work. This grant has several conditions, and it will convert to a Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loan if you do not meet all of the necessary obligations.
We will only consider your eligibility for this grant after you have completed and submitted the TEACH Grant Application, available online or from the Service Center of the Office of Student Financial Services.
To receive a TEACH Grant, you must:
- Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) each year, although you do not have to demonstrate financial need;
- Be enrolled as an undergraduate or graduate student in coursework that is necessary to begin a career in teaching; such coursework may include subject area courses (e.g., math courses for a student who intends to be a math teacher); a student working on a second B.A./B.S. degree is not eligible;
- Meet academic achievement requirements on an admissions test (ACT 27, SAT 1200, GRE 675 on at least one battery of tests) or maintain a cumulative high school or college GPA of at least 3.25;
- Complete the online TEACH Grant Counseling each year; and,
- Sign a TEACH Grant Agreement to Serve each year.
To make sure you do not have to repay this grant:
- You must serve as a full-time teacher in a high-need field in a public or private elementary or secondary school that serves low-income students;
- You must teach for at least four academic years within eight calendar years of completing the program of study for which you received a TEACH Grant; and,
- If you fail to complete this service obligation, all amounts of the TEACH Grants received will be converted to a Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loan. You must then repay this loan to the U.S. Department of Education. Interest is charged from the date the grant(s) was disbursed.
High-needs fields are:
- Bilingual education and English language acquisition;
- Foreign language;
- Reading specialist;
- Science; and,
- Special education.
Schools serving low-income students include any elementary or secondary school listed in the U.S. Department of Education’s Annual Directory of Designated Low-Income Schools for Teacher Cancellation Benefits.
For additional information and to complete the TEACH Grant Counseling and/or the Agreement to Serve (ATS), visit the student aid website.
Students who receive a TEACH Grant at UCO are required to complete TEACH Grant Counseling upon ceasing to attend UCO, official or unofficial withdrawal from the university or withdrawal from a TEACH Grant-eligible program/major.
To complete TEACH Grant exit counseling:
- Go to NSLDS;
- Select the TEACH Grant Exit Counseling link; and,
- Log in with your Federal Student Aid PIN.
Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant
Beginning with the 2010-11 award year, a student who is not eligible for a Pell Grant but whose parent or guardian was a member of the U.S. Armed Forces and died as a result of service performed in Iraq or Afghanistan after Sept. 11, 2001, may be eligible to receive the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant.
The student must have been under 24 years old or enrolled in college when the parent or guardian died. The grant award is equal to the amount of a maximum Pell Grant for the award year—not to exceed the cost of attendance for that award year.
Oklahoma Tuition Aid Grant (OTAG)
The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education awards Oklahoma Tuition Aid Grant (OTAG) funds to eligible undergraduate Oklahoma residents who attend school in Oklahoma. OTAG is a part of LEAP (Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership) and is funded by federal and state governments. OTAG is included for potential eligibility as part of your award package.
However, even if you have been offered an OTAG award, funds will not be forwarded to UCO until eligibility is confirmed with the OTAG office and UCO enrollment has been verified. Students awarded OTAG but withdraw or cease to be enrolled at least half time during the 100% refund period will not be eligible for OTAG funding.
Have Questions About Financial Aid and Grants?
To learn more about grants and applying for financial aid, direct your inquiries to the Broncho OneStop for assistance via phone at 405-974-2727 or visit the Broncho OneStop Help Center.