How to Get Personal Grants
Update September 2021: Due to the Federal Stimulus Package related to Coronavirus COVID-19 there are many additional grants individuals and families can receive. Please read about them here.
The main additional personal grants available are:
- Individual taxpayers will receive up to $1,400;
- Married couples who filed jointly in 2019 will receive up to $2,800
- For each child under the age of 17, families will receive an additional $500.
- For those who lost their job, there is an additional $600 per week for unemployment benefits in addition to regular unemployment payments.
You need the help, but where will you get it? Thankfully, there are personal grants, other grant programs, and financial assistance from the government that perfect for you and your needs.
Grants are a hot topic to educate yourself on because they are essentially money from the government that you don’t have to pay back. However, despite the appealing sound, receiving grant money has certain stipulations that you must adhere to in order to receive the assistance.
There are two types of monetary aid from the government: Free money and government grants. We will discuss both of this government assistance and what they can do for you.
What are Personal Grants?
These federal grant opportunities are pretty much money packages or business funding from an organization or governmental agency that the recipient does not need to pay back. Personal grants can be used for a variety of reasons, such as health care, personal expenses, child care, home improvement, and more. Whatever purpose you decide to use them for, grants are there for you when you experience difficult circumstances outside of your control.
These personal grants differ much from housing grants or business grants since the two aforementioned grants don’t help you with your daily livelihood. Personal grants allow you to ease financial stress and start afresh with renewed motivation. Best of all, you don’t have to pay them back once you’re on your feet again.
Free money sounds appealing, but it is more than just personal finance and it comes with requirements. For starters, the government only provides this type of assistance through programs that serve various important purposes, such as education, healthcare, food assistance, job training and other important needs. Not all of these free government grant assistance programs provide cash payments, and assistance programs with payments may have conditions and limitations.
So you could use free grants from the government if you lost your job and you’re in need of some money for health care or if your spouse left you and it’s getting harder to pay your child’s educational expenses. These have a specific purpose that, in a broader sense, will benefit society.
That being said, let’s now talk about where to find these types of free money personal grants. Your best bet will be to look on Benefits.gov, as it provides the most exhaustive list of personal grants the federal government offers. You can get grants in the categories of:
- American Indian/Alaska Native
- American Indian/Alaska Native youth
- Child Care/Support
- Disability Assistance
- Disaster Relief
- Employment/Career Development
- Energy Assistance
- Environmental sustainability/Conservation
- Family social security
- Financial services
- Living Assistance
- Military: Active Duty and Veterans
- Social Security Disability Assistance
- Social Security Insurance
- Social Security Medicare
- Social Security Retirement
- Spouse & Widow(er) Social Security
- Supplemental Security Income
- Tax Assistance
To see more information for each of the categories listed above, go to Benefits.gov and click the link for the category. You will then be taken to pages with more information about the grants, assistance, and grant proposals.
You can narrow down your grant searches at Benefits.gov in two ways:
- Click “Browse” on the top bar. You will see options to search for grants based on the grant’s category, agency, or state in which the grant is offered. Click one of these options and narrow down the results that most pertain to you.
- Use the Benefits Finder questionnaire offered on the top of the page. There will be questions you must answer such as US citizenship status, household income, current employment status, and more. It should take about 10 to 20 minutes and it is advised that you answer all questions on the questionnaire so that you are eligible for the most money. Once you have completed this, you will be shown a list of grants that most benefit you.
To apply for a grant from this website, can simply choose a grant offered in whatever category you choose and follow the instructions under “Your Next Steps”. Some grants may have online applications available while others may ask you to go visit a grant specific office near you to apply (e.g., the Georgia Energy Assistance program requires you to contact your local Community Action Agency).
When applying for a certain grant for financial assistance, be sure that you fulfill the necessary requirements as described by the grant. You don’t want to waste your time applying for grants you can’t even get, especially if you need assistance as soon as possible.
Another place for you to look is Grants.gov, though this is mostly for organizations and state governments. It provides large amounts of money to fund projects that will directly and positively impact a community in some way.
Despite federal grants being mostly for larger organizations, individual are grants offered for financial assistance, though there are typically less than one hundred individual grants to choose from here compared a thousand for, say, small businesses.
To find an individual grant on Grants.gov, go to the top bar that says “Search Grants”. From there, go to the side and look for the box labeled “Eligibility”. In that box, be sure to select “Individual”. Here’s what you should see:
After you selected this, the individual grants offered by the federal government for personal assistance will appear on the right side of your screen. Browse the grants and see which ones are right for you. There should be instructions in each grant and how to apply for it.
The competition will be steep since you will be facing competition on a national level, so be sure you are a highly-qualified candidate for a specific individual grant before applying. It is best to take the grant application very seriously and maybe even obtain a grant writer, accountant, or lawyer if you can. Even without paid external help, there’s plenty of free help online or at your local library. Seeking support will make applying for grants much easier. Otherwise, you have a slim chance of actually receiving money and will find a copious amount of time fruitless.
However, should you put in the time and effort, getting a large monetary grant could transform the state of your community. Don’t let the formidability of a government grant deter you from applying.
Another type of personal grant one may get is for students entering or enrolled in higher education institutions in order to help ease their financial burdens. These grants for college are mostly need-based.
To get a grant like this, fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid form. This application will assess how much funding you may get, and whether or not other criteria apply to you for other loans.
StudentAid.ed.gov will offer more information on government assistance for students, as well as provide more information for the type of grants offered, the eligibility for these grants, how much money may be awarded, and other material that may benefit you.
Where Can Personal Grants Be Used?
The use of these monetary gifts is not restricted to a particular field or area, as with all small business grants. Rather, the usage of personal grants varies from person to person. For example, if certain circumstances mean that you don’t have enough money to repair your home after a severe storm, a personal grant may be just the extra cash to help you fix your leaky roof or damaged wall.
Below is a full list of the places personal grants can be used:
- Housing rent and allied things like utilities and groceries
- Child care
- Medical bills, insurance, and assistance
- Community improvement
- Conservation, energy-use reduction
- Training and education, grants for teachers
- Personal assistance, caretaking
- Home purchasing and repairs
- School supplies
- Real estate taxes
- New car
- Legal services
- Public transportation
How do I Get a Personal Grant?
As with any way to receive grant money, you must first find the grant that’s right for you then apply for it. Some grants will come to you quickly while others will take a little more searching for. When you do find one that you’re eligible for, the grant application process might not be the easiest to complete either. Every grant is unique and must be paid very special attention to. Check out private foundations, government agencies, or charitable organizations that offer the right grant for you.
Just be wary of fraudulent grants since they make themselves seem very appealing but will actually do you harm in the long run. Never give away personal information in order to receive grant money.
With that, let’s now talk about:
Federal and Private Searching Sources
Grants can come from a variety of places, but the main two will be federal and privately funded sectors.
Government grants are grants given to citizens from the government, typically to keep money flowing into the economy. There’s government assisted houses, nutrition, and education.
Education grants, in particular, are plentiful. Students can receive the Pell Grant for undergraduate education, awarded based on financial needs. If you have trouble paying for college, fill out the Federal Application for Student Financial Aid to see what you are eligible for. It’s not uncommon to see students receive Pell Grants on most college campuses, so take advantage of this opportunity if you can.
To see more government grants, visit grants.gov as it is the only viable and verified website for all authentic government grants. Search for keywords pertaining to you and see what the site offers.
Private grants, on the other hand, are not from the government. Instead, they are from an organization that seeks to empower individuals for whatever reason, whether it is philanthropic or economically motivated. Unfortunately, there is no single website listing all private grants, so a number of Google searches will be the best bet at yielding results.
Who Receives Personal Grants?
Basically, people who show a need for a grant. Whether you’re a student who has to support themselves on their own or is someone going into the debt relief program, there’s obviously a need you must address financially in order to sustain your livelihood. Personal grants are designed to help people when their down and give them options when they think there aren’t any.
Also, some grants are specific for certain people in certain situations. When you go to grants.gov, look at the “synopsis” portion of the grant’s details. If there are specific requirements for the grant recipient, such as a number of people in their household, ethnicity, or yearly earning, then you might be ineligible for that grant. Fear not, though, as there is a variety of personal grants to choose from.
Private grants function much in the same way, often going to people with certain traits or needs. These vary in what they are supposed to be used for and what they offer. So, again, read the grant description carefully to see who the grant is intended for.
How do I apply for a grant?
Follow the instructions for the grants as they are laid out for you. With federal student aid, you may need to find out many things you might not know off the top of your head, like your mother and father’s yearly earnings and other esoteric things. Some grants may require you to mail things to the agency or email them information. Whatever they detail, follow the instructions thoroughly. You don’t want to miss getting a grant because you didn’t follow the instructions well enough.
Make sure your grant proposal accurately details why you, out of everyone else in the applicant pool, need the grant you are applying for. Proposals can be tricky to write, so refer to free resources in your local library or online. Ask a friend to help proofread your work and offer ways in which it can improve. There are a variety of sources out there that can help you.
Once you get your grant, you’ll be on your way to revitalizing your life and improving it in ways you didn’t think you could before. Finding, filling out, and waiting for the response may be tough, but once you actually get the money it will have all been worth it.
Best of luck in your grant search. Here were the sites used in this article: