What are Federal Grants?
Federal grants come in the form of economic packages awarded to eligible recipients for a specific activity designed to service a public purpose. Dozens of federal agencies offer grants in dozens of categories. Almost all government agencies have a grant program in some area of their jurisdiction. You can get grants in categories including, but not limited to, agriculture, business, community development, disaster prevention, education, energy, environment, health, housing, law, natural resources, science, technology, and transportation. Some grants are very specific for a type of research or activity. Others offer block grants that meet wider criteria.
There are separate federal grants for those who want federal aid to help pay for a college education. The four most common education grants are the Pell Grant, the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant, and the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant. Most of these grants have criteria for income and attendance attached to them. Each grant has different award criteria and award amounts. In order to find out if you qualify, you need to go through the FAFSA process first.
Who can apply? Eligibility Requirements
Most federal grants go to public and private organizations. However, individuals may qualify for some grants in specific categories such as teaching and education. Each grant program has its own list of who is eligible. If an applicant does not meet the criteria for the grant, the agency will reject their application automatically. It is important to review the eligibility guidelines that all government grants publish before you submit an application individually or for your organization. That will save you time and hassle since the agency will reject the application.
Education financial aid grants are often the ones that people think of for individual federal grants. The eligibility criteria for those are different from that the grants geared toward organizations. You apply for those grants through the Department of Education's Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. You can do this individually or through your college's financial aid office. The FAFSA will ascertain whether you qualify for the various federal education grants available. This application program is completely separate from other federal financial grants.
How to apply for Federal Grants?
The process for applying to non-financial aid federal grants requires providing detailed information to the government on why you want the funds and how you intend to spend them. The first step is finding a grant that meets your funding needs. You can do this at the Grants.gov website. You will find hundreds of government grants on that site under many categories. Review the grants and see which, if any, meet your funding needs. This is the time to review the eligibility requirements to make sure you or your organization qualifies for the grant program. If you do not, it is a waste of time for you and the agency.
Once you have a grant program in mind, you need to register your organization with the Central Contractor Registration. This central agency in the government deals with all contractors doing business with the government. That includes anyone awarded federal grants from the different agencies. In order to register with the CCR, you need to obtain a Dun & Bradstreet Number. The Grants.gov website gives detailed instruction on how to do this. That number will allow you to register with the CCR. Once you have the DUNS identifier, you can go through that website and register your organization. If you are grants representative for your organization, you will need to register as an authorized agent through this process as well.
After registering, the next step is to go to the announcement site for the federal grants that interest you and download the online application documents. Each federal grant will have different documents you need to download. Each agency provides detailed information on the grant application required for the grant program you have in mind. These documents allow you to fill out the information electronically and then submit it to the appropriate federal agency for approval. Almost all federal agencies require applicants to use this online process in order to keep paper handling costs down and to streamline the application process.
Once you have the application document on your computer, you need to start filling it out. These documents have the ability to go through electronic mail. That means if you need someone else to fill out portions of the document, you can send it to that person. Each application is a bit different. However, most will require detailed information on your organization. You will need to provide detailed information on why you want the grant and how you intend on spending the money. This information will give the agency the information necessary to decide if you meet the grant's requirements or not.
You cannot submit the application incomplete. All required parts must be complete first. Your application will come right back to you if you try to submit it without completion. Once you are ready to submit, all you need to do is click the "Save & Submit" button on the front of the application document. That will save the application and send it to the appropriate government agency for review. During the submission process, you will get an application tracking number. That number allows you to go into the Grants.gov website and review the application status.
For those interested in applying for financial aid federal grants, the process is much different. Instead of using the Grants.gov website, you would use the StudentAid.Ed.gov website. There you can find a link to the FAFSA as well as detailed information on the grants available to students. In order to apply, you need to complete the FAFSA and submit it. The federal government will then review the application and see if you qualify for one of the grants. At the same time, they will find out if you qualify for other financial aid like student loans.
To get more information on these grants you can visit the following websites:
Grant Application Guides and Resources
It is always free to apply for government grants. However the process may be very complex depending on the funding opportunity you are applying for. Below are some of the published guides that have been helpful to past recipients: