Grants for Religious Univerisites

Wanting to pursue a degree at a faith-based college or university can give you the unique opportunity to learn more about your future career while staying connected to a spiritual community. Religious colleges and universities are usually private schools, but that doesn’t mean that they are unaffordable. Combined with grants and scholarships available to most students through federal and state government, Christian colleges can have additional financial aid options that students can apply for to help them cover tuition costs.

Here we will discuss everything you should know about grants including what they are, how they are awarded, and where and how to apply for them.

What are grants?

A grant, like a scholarship, is free money. It’s financial aid that can come from the government, a non-profit organization, or your school, and it does not have to be repaid. There are rare circumstances that would require you to pay back the grant, such as if you were to fail out of school or not meet other specific criteria outlined in the grant.

Unlike scholarships, which are often merit-based and can be awarded to students for a variety reasons (i.e. academics, athletics, talent, identity, etc.), grants are primarily given to students based on financial need.

Who can receive grants?

When looking for grants to apply for, you’ll notice that there are several different types of grants, and not all of them are for students. It’s important to know which ones are for you so that you don’t waste your time and accidentally apply for a grant you’re not eligible for.

In general, and for the purpose of this guide, grants tend to fall into one of these three categories:

  1. Organization Grants – Charities and non-profit organizations will apply for grants from the government, and it is often their primary source of funding. There are scientific and educational groups that will also apply for government grants as a means to fund their research/studies.
  2. Doctoral/Post-Doctoral Grants – These often are given to doctoral and post-doctoral students as part of a fellowship program, and can come from the government, their school, or (more typically) the organization that their fellowship is with.
  3. Undergraduate and Graduate Student Grants – Most students who receive grants to help pay for tuition and school fees get them from either the state or federal government or from the college/university they are attending.

As a student pursuing an associate, bachelors, or masters degree, the third category is the type of grant that pertains to you, and it is what the rest of this guide will focus on.

Undergraduate and Graduate Student Grants

Whether you’re hoping to get a state/federal grant, a grant from your school, or both, you’ll need to fill out and submit your FAFSA as soon as possible every year in order to keep receiving the grant(s). FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid, and it’s important that you fill it out sooner rather than later because most grants are awarded on both a financial need and first-come, first-serve basis.

Government Grants

Several weeks after you submit your FAFSA, you’ll receive an award letter. This award letter will outline which, if any, federal and state government grants and loans that you are eligible to receive, and how much of each.

Even with grants and loans listed on your award letter, it doesn’t mean that you or your school has that money yet. To get that money from your award letter into your school account, you’ll need to accept or decline each item listed. It’s highly recommended that you discuss your award letter with a financial aid counselor from your school before you accept or decline anything, just to make sure you’re not taking on any more than you need and may have to repay later.

These are the four federal grants that you could qualify for based on your FAFSA information:

  • Federal Pell Grant – This grant is only for undergraduate students, and is awarded to those whose expected family contribution (EFC) is significantly less than the estimated cost of tuition. There are a variety of aspects that determine if you will receive this grant and how much money you might get, including:
    • Financial Need
    • Additional Accepted Financial Aid (i.e. scholarships)
    • School Tuition and Attendance Fees
    • Enrolled Part/Full-Time
  • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) – This grant is for undergraduate students with exceptional financial need. The FSEOG is actually awarded through your school’s financial aid office, and not all schools are enrolled in this federal grant program. If your school does participate in this program, you might be considered for this grant if you have already been qualified to receive the Pell Grant.

  • Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants – Students might be eligible to receive this grant if their parent or guardian died as a result of U.S. military service in Iraq or Afghanistan (post 9/11 events). The student would also need to have been enrolled (at least part-time) in college, or under 24 years old at the time of their parent/guardian’s death.

  • Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant – In addition to being need-based, this grant also has several other requirements including:
    • Taking specific classes
    • Being enrolled in an eligible degree program
    • Teaching in a high-need area
    • Teaching at an elementary or secondary school or educational service agency for students from low-income families

Be sure to check out the TEACH grant page for the complete list of requirements. If you’re interested in receiving this grant, it’s important that you meet with your school’s advisor to make sure that the school offers and you are enrolled in a TEACH grant eligible program.

Christian University Grants

Your school will use your financial information that you provided on your FAFSA to determine if you’re eligible to receive any of their grants, but any grants offered by your school will not appear on your FAFSA award letter because only state and federal grants and loans may appear. You will need to complete your school’s grant applications in addition to the FAFSA in order for your school to determine if you meet the criteria and how much you may be able to receive.

When you’re researching Christian colleges and universities, it is just as important to look at their financial aid options as it is their degree programs and accreditations. To help you out, here’s a quick spotlight on the grants available to students to apply for from several accredited Christian colleges and universities (not listed in any particular order):

  1. Liberty University
    • Federal Grants: Pell, FSEOG, TEACH
    • Virginia State Grants: Virginia Tuition Assistance Grant (VTAG), Virginia Two Year College Transfer Grant
    • University Specific Grants: Liberty Supplemental Grant, Liberty Scholars Grant Program (undergraduate)
  2. Messiah College
    • Federal Grants: Pell, FSEOG, TEACH
    • Pennsylvania State Grants: Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency Grant (PHEAA)
    • College Specific Grants: Messiah College Grants, Covenant Grants
    • Other Possibly Accepted Grants: State grants from Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio, Rhode Island, Vermont, and West Virginia
  3. Grand Canyon University
    • Federal Grants: Pell, FSEOG, TEACH
    • Arizona State Grants: Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership (LEAP) program
    • University Specific Grants: Priority Registration Grant, Computer Science/Information Technology/Engineering Program (CSTEP) Grant, Grand Canyon State University Grant (in-state), Grand Canyon State University Grant (out-of-state)
    • Other Possibly Accepted Grants: Phi Theta Kappa Grant
  4. Cincinnati Christian University
    • Federal Grants: Pell, FSEOG
    • Ohio State Grants: Ohio College Opportunity Grant (OCOG)
    • University Specific Grants: Missionary Grant, Family Grant, Graduate International Grant, Christian College Staff/Campus Minister Grant, Full-Time Minister Grant
  5. Indiana Wesleyan University
    • Federal Grants: Pell, FSEOG, TEACH
    • Indiana State Grants: Frank O’Bannon Grant, Twenty-First Century Scholars Program, State of Indiana Academic Honors Incentive, State of Indiana Accelerated Schedule Incentive
    • University Specific Grants: Indiana Wesleyan University Grant, Opportunity Award, Wesleyan Pastor Dependent Benefit, Pastor Dependent Grant, Wesleyan Missionary Dependent Grant, Wesleyan Student Grant, Out-of-State Wesleyan Grant, Wesleyan Canadian Grant, Family Tuition Grant
    • Other Possibly Accepted Grants: Shugart Grant, CCCU Tuition Exchange
  6. Providence Christian College
    • Federal Grants: Pell
    • California State Grants: Cal Grant
    • College Specific Grants: College Aid Grant, Canadian Exchange Rate Grant, Sibling Grant, Christian Ministry Grant
  7. Saint Leo University
    • Federal Grants: Pell, FSEOG, TEACH, Iraq & Afghanistan Service Grant
    • Florida and Georgia State Grants: Florida Resident Access Grant (FRAG), Florida Student Assistance Grant (FSAG), Honorably Discharged Graduate Assistance Program (HDGAP – Florida), Georgia Tuition Equalization Grant (TEG)
    • Other Possibly Accepted Grants: Any other state grant

Keep in mind that even if you apply for a grant, it does not guarantee that you will be awarded the grant. The availability of these grants may change as schools choose to remove or add more grant and other financial aid options. Talk with your school’s financial aid counselor to learn about all of the grant opportunities that you can apply for. Also, make sure that you explore the rest of our site and check out our guide, Career Options for Christian School Graduates, to learn more about the benefits of earning your degree.

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