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Grants for Living Expenses While in College: How to Get

Grants for Living Expenses While in College

Embarking on a college journey can be thrilling, but let’s face it, the expenses? Not so much.

As someone who’s paid for textbooks, rent, and those all-important coffee runs, I’ve learned a thing or two about the financial hurdles of college life.

So, in this article, I will list the top 5 Grants for Living Expenses While in College and how to get them.

What are Grants for Living Expenses While in College?

What are Grants for Living Expenses While in College

Grants for living expenses are financial aids provided to college students to cover non-tuition costs. These include room and board, textbooks, and other education-related expenses. Unlike student loans, grants do not need to be repaid, making them highly sought after for students with financial need.

If you are a single mom looking for assistance, check out my post on College grants for single moms.

Top 5 Grants for Living Expenses While in College

These are the top 5 Grants for Living Expenses While in College:

1. Federal Pell Grant

Traditionally, the Federal Pell Grant program is known for its support towards tuition, but it can also be used for living expenses. It is awarded based on financial need, and the amount varies each year.

2. Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)

For students with exceptional financial need, the FSEOG can offer additional support of $100 to $4,000 annually towards education costs, including living expenses.

3. Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant

I found that the TEACH Grant provides grants of up to $4,000 per year to students who are completing or plan to complete coursework needed to begin a career in teaching.

4. State Specific Grants

Many states offer their own grant programs, which vary by state and may cover living costs.

5. Institutional Grants

Several colleges and universities provide their own grants for students. These grants are often need-based and can be applied toward living expenses. Contacting your school’s financial aid office can help in identifying these opportunities.

How to Apply for Grants for Living Expenses While in College

How to Apply for College Grants for Living Expenses

Follow these steps to apply for Grants for Living Expenses While in College:

My first step is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which serves as the gateway to all federal financial aid, including the Pell Grant. It’s crucial for me to submit the FAFSA accurately and early, as aid is often awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. To do this, I gather my financial information, such as income and tax return details, and ensure I have my Social Security number at hand.

  1. Visit the official FAFSA website.
  2. Create or use my Federal Student Aid ID to access the application.
  3. Fill out the application with my financial and personal information.
  4. Review and submit the form before the deadline for the award year I plan to attend college.

Understanding Cost of Attendance and EFC

The Cost of Attendance (COA) is more than just tuition; it includes fees, books, and necessary living expenses. I calculate my COA using tools provided by college financial aid websites or the College Board to manage my expectations. Another critical term is the Expected Family Contribution (EFC), which is derived from the data I submit through the FAFSA and determines my eligibility for financial aid.

  1. Calculate the COA by adding up all college-related costs.
  2. Review my EFC, which the FAFSA calculates to assess how much my family can contribute.
  3. Consider how the gap between COA and EFC translates to my financial need.

Seeking State and School-Specific Grants

Beyond federal aid, I search for state grants and school-specific grants available for undergraduate students like me, especially if I’m coming from a low-income family. Each school and state may have its own set of grants aimed at helping with college expenses.

  1. Check with my school’s financial aid office for available grants.
  2. Research state grants by visiting my state’s Department of Higher Education website.
  3. Apply for grants through my school’s financial aid office or directly via the state’s listed process.

Eligibility Criteria

These are the eligibility criteria for Grants for Living Expenses While in College:

  1. Financial Need: I must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to demonstrate financial need. This prerequisite for most grants, including the Federal Pell Grant, helps determine my Expected Family Contribution (EFC).
  2. Academic Requirements: I am usually required to be enrolled in an accredited college or university as an undergraduate student. Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) is a common criterion for maintaining ongoing grant support eligibility.
  3. Enrollment Status: A part-time or full-time enrollment status may affect the amount of funding I can receive. The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) provides up to $4,000 per year based on enrollment status and need.
  4. Special Circumstances: Grants like the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant are available if I don’t qualify for a Federal Pell Grant based on EFC but satisfy other eligibility criteria, such as having a parent or guardian who was a servicemember that served in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Documents Required

When applying for grants to cover living expenses during college, I ensure I have all the necessary documents ready. Below is a list of documents typically required for grant applications:

Financial Documents:

  • The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is essential. It helps determine my eligibility for federal grants like the Federal Pell Grant.
  • Tax returns and W-2 forms from the past year for both myself and my parents (if I’m a dependent student).
  • Bank statements to show current financial status.

Academic Records:

  • My transcripts to prove academic achievement.
  • Admission letters or enrollment proof from the educational institution I am attending.

Identification Documents:

  • A valid driver’s license or state ID for proof of residency.
  • My Social Security Card or number for identification purposes.

Additional Support Documents:

  • In some cases, letters of recommendation or a personal statement outlining my financial need and goals.
  • Documents for specialized grants might include proof of circumstances, such as military service records or documents proving special status (e.g., for grants aimed at minority students).

Grants for Living Expenses While in College Comparison Table

This table compares Grants for Living Expenses While in College:

Grant TypeEligibilityAward AmountUse of Funds
Federal Pell GrantUndergraduate students with financial needUp to $7,395Tuition, fees, room and board, living expenses
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)Students with exceptional financial need$100 to $4,000Educational expenses and living costs
TEACH GrantStudents enrolled in teaching programsUp to $4,000Tuition, fees, and living expenses if teaching obligations are met after graduation
State-Specific GrantsVaried by stateVariesFrequently includes living expenses

Covering Living Expenses

Managing living expenses is a significant part of attending college. Understanding the various avenues through which I can secure funds to cover these costs is crucial, especially for essentials like housing and food.

Grants Targeted at Living Costs

Grants are often considered “free money” as they do not require repayment, making them a preferred option for covering college living expenses. For example, the Pell Grant is well-known for aiding low-income students and can provide up to $6,495 for the 2021-2022 academic year. It’s renewable for up to eight semesters. Furthermore, the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) offers additional support up to $4,000 depending on financial need.

Other Types of Aid for Expenses

Besides grants, I have other options to cover costs like rent and meal plans. Scholarships can occasionally be applied towards living expenses, not just tuition. Loans are another resource, but I must remember they come with the obligation of repayment after graduation. Some colleges also offer work-study programs, where part-time work on or near campus is used to subsidize living costs. For my situation, exploring each of these resources thoroughly could mean the difference between financial strain and a more comfortable college experience.

Managing Loans and Repayment

When navigating college finances, I understand that distinguishing between loan types and being aware of repayment options is crucial for long-term financial well-being. Let’s look at how federal and private student loans differ and the repayment assistance programs available.

Federal versus Private Student Loans

Federal student loans offer fixed interest rates, which means the interest rate stays the same throughout the life of the loan. These loans also provide more flexible repayment plans and options for deferment or forbearance. Additionally, programs like Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) and the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants are tailored to assist students with exceptional financial needs or those connected to military service.

On the other hand, private student loans are offered by banks, credit unions, or other private lenders. The interest rates for private student loans can be fixed or variable, often higher than federal loans, and may depend on my credit history and income. Private student loans typically offer fewer repayment options compared to federal loans, and private grants are less common.

Loan Forgiveness and Repayment Programs

Several federal loan forgiveness and repayment programs assist in managing student loan debt. The Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant provides funds for students who plan on teaching in a high-need field in a low-income area. If I fulfill the teaching requirements, this grant does not need to be repaid.

Loan forgiveness programs, like Public Service Loan Forgiveness, can forgive the remaining balance on my direct loans after I’ve made 120 qualifying monthly payments under a qualifying repayment plan while working full-time for a qualified employer. Moreover, repayment plans such as income-driven repayment plans can adjust my monthly payments to be a portion of my discretionary income. These options take into account my revenue and family size to make student loan debt more manageable after college.

Leveraging Scholarships and Work-Study Programs

I understand that managing the costs of higher education extends beyond tuition. It is essential to consider living expenses, which can be covered partially through scholarships and work-study programs. These financial aid resources can help me afford rent, supplies, and other costs while I focus on my courses.

Merit-Based Scholarships

Merit-based scholarships are awarded based on my academic achievements, such as maintaining a high GPA or excelling in a particular major, such as science or technology. To maximize my potential for these scholarships:

  • I ensure that I maintain or exceed the GPA requirements.
  • I stay informed about awards offered by my college and companies in my field of study.
  • I apply early for scholarships related to my major.

Work-Study Opportunities and Student Employment

Federal Work-Study provides part-time jobs for undergraduate students like me who need financial aid. Here are specific strategies to leverage work-study:

  • I check my college’s financial aid office listings for on-campus and off-campus work-study positions.
  • I prioritize jobs that offer experience relevant to my major.
  • I balance my work schedule with my class schedule to ensure that my academic performance remains a priority.

By engaging in work-study, I not only cover part of my living expenses but also gain valuable work experience, which is a beneficial addition to my resume.

FAQs on Grants for Living Expenses While in College

These are the most frequently asked questions on Grants for Living Expenses While in College:

What types of grants are available to cover housing expenses for college students?

There are several types of grants aimed at covering housing costs for college students, such as federal grants, state grants, and institutional grants. For example, grants from the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) program can also be used for housing.

How can students apply for Pell Grants and can these funds be allocated for living costs?

Students apply for Pell Grants by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Pell Grants can indeed be allocated for living expenses, such as room and board, along with tuition and fees.

What financial options are there for adult learners seeking grants for college and living expenses?

Adult learners have access to the same federal grants as traditional students. In addition, they might qualify for grants designed for non-traditional students, such as those returning to education after a break or those pursuing vocational training. Some programs like the Imagine America Foundation provide such opportunities.

Are there any specific grants tailored for women in college to assist with living expenses?

Indeed, there are specific grants available for women. Organizations like the American Association of University Women (AAUW) offer fellowships and grants for women pursuing college educations, which can help with living expenses as well as tuition.

How does the FAFSA process facilitate obtaining grants for both tuition and living expenses?

Submitting the FAFSA is the first step to obtaining financial aid, including grants for tuition and living expenses. It assesses financial need and eligibility for programs like the Federal Pell Grant and can connect students with the most appropriate aid types based on their situation.

What resources and grants exist for college students in Georgia to help manage living costs?

Students in Georgia have access to state-specific grants like the Georgia Student Finance Commission’s state grant, which can help with living expenses and tuition. In addition, the HOPE Scholarship is available for eligible students to offset some of the costs associated with college living.


As we wrap up, it’s clear that discovering ‘Grants for Living Expenses While in College’ is a crucial step in managing your educational journey. These grants are not just financial aids; they’re stepping stones to a worry-free college experience, allowing you to concentrate on your academics rather than your expenses.

Here’s to your success, both in the classroom and in managing your living expenses!