Private College Grants
Unlike a private loan, private college grants do not need to be repaid. Private grants are simply a form of financial aid that comes from private non-profit sources as opposed to the government. (For-profit sources issue scholarships, not grants. Beyond this distinction, there are no real differences between private college grants and scholarships.) The sources of private college grants include universities, social clubs, scholarship organizations, and more.
About half of all undergraduates are given grants, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, and the average total amount hovered at about $4,000 in 2006. With the cost of a private university education exceeding $20,000 per year in many areas, students should apply for as many grants as possible. Grant money is tax exempt, so there are no negative financial ramifications for the recipient.
Sources of Private College Grants
While many grants are need-based, meaning that applicants would have to demonstrate a financial hardship, quite a few grants are merit-based. Students with exceptionally high grades, excellent leadership skills, or even a unique talent can seek out grant sources. Some grant organizations also offer funds based on an applicant’s ethnic or cultural background, including the United Negro College Fund and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute.
Many grants are renewable, meaning that an applicant can continue to receive additional funding for each year of college attended. However, these private college grants will usually require the applicant to meet basic criteria before a renewal is approved. For example, maintaining a certain GPA or participating in a set number of volunteer hours may be required.