As it is basically ‘free money,’ getting a government grant (or federal grant) may seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. Thankfully, there are resources out there that facilitate your government grant money application and speed you along the process.
To get a federal government grant, the first (and most important) step is to find a grant. The only authoritative source for federal grants is Grants.gov. Any other place offering you a list of grants, especially for money, is a scam. There are quite a few scammers and scam websites lurking on the Internet so avoid them at all costs. Never submit money for a free government grant for any reason.
Once you have found the grant, check and see if you are eligible for one. If you go to Grants.gov, you will see eligibility on the left side of the screen under the “Search Grants” tab. Grants are available for:
- Individual people
- For-profit companies
- Schools (all grade levels of schools are eligible)
- Local city government agencies
- Native American Tribes (sometimes grouped in minorities categories)
- Non-profits, especially helpful if you have a 501(c)(3) status
- Non-profits, some qualify without 501(c)(3) status
- Private colleges
- State colleges
- Public housing organizations (also known as Section 8 housing or those eligible for affordable housing)
- Small businesses (if they comply with the size standards established by the Small Business Association)
- County governments
- Special district federal governments
- State governments and organizations within each State
- Others (this asks that you see a text field entitled ‘Additional Information on Eligibility’ for clarification)
- Unrestricted (open to any entity mentioned above, but may have specific requirements in the text field ‘Additional Information on Eligibility’)
If you find your organization on the above list, then you may apply for a free government grant to increase your funds. It is vital to make sure that you are eligible for the government grant you apply for. Otherwise, you will have wasted time in the application process.
It must be noted that while individuals can apply for government grants, there are fewer than 100 available for individuals while those for almost every other category average above 1000. Even then, the requirements for individual grants are incredibly specific. Applying for government grants are competitive as it is and the reduced pool and specific qualifications further reduce an individual applicant’s chances of getting the grant. Those seeking to benefit from personal funding from the government should view the “For Personal Benefit” sidebar of the Grants.gov Grant Program page.
Therefore, being affiliated with an organization will increase the odds of receiving a grant for financial aid, as there are simply more offered. But obtaining a grant for increased funds is still incredibly competitive, as you will be facing competitors on a national scale.
To have a higher chance of getting a government grant, ensure that you are an exceptionally competitive candidate for the grant. Having a strong application with stronger credentials will put you towards the top of the list.
With that said, there are frequently smaller grants that large organizations and individuals do not apply for and you can sneak in with less competition. The key to locating these types of grants are to look for smaller funding amounts and also grants that are in less popular categories.
Once you have ensured that you are a strong candidate, it is time to apply for the grant. Register on Grants.gov as an organization or individual and double check if there are any additional requirements in the registration process.
After registering, complete the application as instructed. It is a long process, requiring information ranging from basic organization information to project details to financial data and information. Filling out the application for potential financial aid may take weeks, but filling out every detail fully and without any error is the only way to get a government grant.
Submit your application, ensuring that you receive email notification of a successful submission. Then wait until the grant funding agency sends you an email notifying you if you have been awarded the grant or not.
5 Tips to Get a Government Grant
That’s the grant application process. Here are some tips for improving your grant application:
- Ensure that your organization’s goals match those of the funding agency. This may not only be explicit goals as mentioned on the application but also inferred goals based on the funding agency’s history. A little research goes a long way in determining a funding agency’s goals.
- Ensure that your organization is ready for the grant and appears ready for it at the time of grant application. By this, make sure that your organization has diversified staff, has audits performed by organizations that have no ties to your organization, and includes well-supported studies of specific needs in the area you seek funding.
- Have program objectives that are measurable. A grant funding agency will be weary of providing money to an organization that may not be able to show improvement with the grant.
- Make your budget airtight. Anomalies in the budget will raise red-flags to grant reviewers.
- Follow the guidelines of the application to the letter. If for any reason you do not follow the grant application guideline, your application will be rejected in favor of an organization that can follow instructions. Don’t let careless mistakes cost you hours of a grant application.
Types of Government Grants
There are government grants in:
The above list is from Grants.gov. Another place to look for grants is the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance. It provides an abridgment of Federal programs, projects, services, and activities that provide assistance or benefits to the American public. The CFDA includes both financial and nonfinancial assistance programs, but there are indeed monetary grants offered.
The CFDA includes a comprehensive list of all the programs available for applicants to apply to. Get view that list of assistance in detail, please click here. While more than just grants are offered, you may select to view only government grants and the organization providing it when you use the “More Search Fields” options next to the keyword search.