Government Grants To Go Back to School Adults

June 30, 2021

Returning to school as an adult can be a life-changing decision, but it can also come with financial challenges. Fortunately, various grants are available to help adult learners finance their education and achieve their goals.

If you’re an adult who wants to go back to school or college, you may be eligible for grants and scholarships to ease your financial burden. These grants can help pay for your education without any need to return the money so long as you complete your program.

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In this article, we’ll provide an overview of government grants to return to school and explain how they can help adult learners pursue their academic and career aspirations. We’ll also discuss the importance of grants for adult learners and highlight some of the different grant programs available.

Whether you’re considering returning to school to advance your career, develop new skills, or pursue a lifelong interest, understanding the options for funding your education can make all the difference. So, let’s dive into the world of grants to return to school and explore how they can help you finance your future as an adult learner.

What Are Grants to Go Back to School?

Grants are financial awards provided to individuals returning to school after a period of absence or pursuing higher education for the first time.

Unlike loans, grants do not need to be repaid, making them an excellent option for students looking to finance their education without taking on additional debt. College grants are typically given to students who demonstrate the most financial need.

You can fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form before the application deadline to apply for the grants you’re eligible for every year. After submitting your FAFSA form, schools will notify you of the amount you are eligible to receive.

Eligibility Requirements for Grants to Go Back to School

Eligibility requirements for grants to go back to school can vary depending on the grant program but typically include factors such as financial need, academic achievement, and program of study. Some grant programs may also have specific requirements for age, residency, or other demographic factors.

Differences between Grants and Other Forms of Financial Aid

Grants are just one form of financial aid available to students pursuing higher education. Other common forms of financial aid include loans and scholarships. While grants and scholarships are similar in that they do not need to be repaid, scholarships are usually merit-based and awarded for academic achievement or other specific criteria, whereas grants are typically need-based.

Loans, on the other hand, must be repaid with interest, making them a more expensive form of financial aid in the long run. Additionally, unlike grants, loans can have restrictions on their use and may be subject to credit checks or other eligibility requirements.

Understanding the Different Types of Grants for Returning Students

Returning students can access a variety of grants to help fund their education. Here are some types of grants available for returning students:

Federal Grants

The United States Department of Education offers numerous grants to students for attending a four-year program in colleges, universities, community colleges, and career schools. If you want to complete your education, these are the grants that you might be eligible for:

Federal Pell Grant

Federal Pell Grants are generally given to undergraduate students who have not earned their bachelor’s or graduate degrees. It is a need-based grant awarded to students with exceptional financial needs. A post-baccalaureate teacher certification program student might also be eligible for this grant. 

First, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. To stay eligible for federal grants, you have to complete the FAFSA form every year until you complete your graduation or no longer require financial aid.

The factors that determine the grant amount are as follows:

  • Expected Family Contribution (EFC): The Federal Pell Agency calculates your EFC based on your family’s income, assets, and other benefits you might be receiving. The higher the EFC, the lower the grant that you’ll receive. 
  • Cost of Attendance (COA): COA is a fixed amount decided by the college as per the program you enroll for. If your college determines the COA for attending a program is $20,000 and your EFC is $15,000, you will be eligible for a maximum of $5,000 as need-based aid.
  • Student Status: The amount varies for full-time and part-time students.
  • Completion of Course: You must attend college for the entirety of your program to receive full grants.

If your school applies for the Federal Pell Grant, you can receive grants in the form of reduced tuition costs, direct payment, or a combination of both.

You won’t be eligible for the grant after you earn your baccalaureate degree or first professional degree or use up 12 terms (roughly six years) of your eligibility for the grant.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)

FSEOG is a financial aid program administered directly by the admitting school. To apply for FSEOG, you must enroll in a school participating in these grant programs.

Once you’ve filled out your FAFSA form, your college determines your financial need. Your college will grant the FSEOG to students with the most financial need.

You can get anywhere between $100 and $4,000 per year depending upon the following factors:

  • Your financial need
  • Other aids, grants, and scholarships that you are receiving
  • Availability of funds at your school

The U.S. Department of Education gives a certain amount as college grants to each school participating in the FSEOG program. Unlike Federal Pell, which grants the amount direct to adult students, the financial aid office at your school grants FSEOG. You must visit the college’s website to check for application deadlines for campus-based funds. 

Adult students returning to school can receive their grant in their student account through direct payment or a combination of both. You will receive the funds once per term (semester, trimester, quarter). 

If your school does not follow a term-based pattern, you will receive the funds at least twice a year.

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

If you’re an adult student pursuing a teaching or educational administration degree, you can apply for the TEACH grant through FAFSA.

To be eligible for the TEACH grant, college attendees must teach in a low-income school for at least 4 years within eight years after completing their degree. If you plan to return to school but do not fulfill the service requirements, the agency will convert your financial aid into a student loan you must repay with interest.

Adult students who apply for this grant can receive up to $3,772 annually. An adult who wishes to receive this grant must enroll in a TEACH-Grant-Eligible Program at a school that participates in the TEACH grant program. 

You must also meet the academic requirement of scoring more than 75 percent on a college admission test or maintain a GPA of 3.25 or above.

If you plan to return to college and want to apply for grants, one of the most important tasks is filling out the FAFSA form. Obtaining federal student aid becomes much easier if you fill out the FAFSA correctly while applying for grant programs. Read our guide on filling out the FAFSA form and applying for financial aid through various grant programs.

State Grants

Tuition Assistance Programs (TAP)

TAP is a state grant program that provides financial assistance to eligible undergraduate and graduate students who are New York State residents. Eligibility is based on income, academic performance, and the cost of attendance. To apply for TAP, students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the TAP application.

Workforce Development Grants

Workforce Development Grants are state-funded grants designed to help students gain the skills and education they need to enter or re-enter the workforce. These grants may cover tuition, fees, and other expenses related to education and training programs in high-demand fields, such as healthcare, technology, and manufacturing.

Eligibility and award amounts vary by state, and some grants may be targeted to specific populations, such as low-income individuals or veterans. To apply for Workforce Development Grants, students should check with their state’s workforce development agency or the financial aid office of the school they plan to attend.

Private Grants

Corporate Grants

Corporate grants are grants businesses and corporations award to support various causes, including education. These grants can target specific fields of study, student populations, or geographic regions. Some examples of corporate grant programs include Google’s Computer Science Education Grants and Bank of America’s Student Leaders Program.

Corporate grants can be a great source of financial support for students pursuing a degree in a field that aligns with a company’s mission or values. To find corporate grants, students can search for grant opportunities on the websites of specific companies or through online databases such as the Foundation Center.

Foundation Grants

Foundation grants are awarded by nonprofit organizations and foundations to support various causes, including education. These grants can be targeted to specific fields of study, student populations, or geographic regions.

Some examples of foundation grant programs include the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Postsecondary Success Program and the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation’s Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship.

Foundation grants can be a great source of financial support for students pursuing a degree in a field that aligns with a foundation’s mission or values. To find foundation grants, students can search for grant opportunities on the websites of specific foundations or through online databases such as the Foundation Center.

Grants for Women Going Back to School

Excellent grants and scholarships exist for women who wish to return to school. Apart from the federal government, several private organizations can help adults make a college career. If you’re a woman attending a full-time program, these are the programs you can benefit from:

The American Association of University Women Scholarship: You can apply for these student grants through their state and local branch offices. The amount varies depending on your region.

The Philanthropic Educational Organization: The organization offers need-based and merit-based scholarships, grants, and student loans to women. Their financial assistance program is well-suited for women about to finish high school. 

The organization’s local chapters decide the money a student would receive depending upon the region and the program they enroll for.

The Talbot Scholarship Foundation: Women who wish to attend college in the U.S. or Canada and need help paying for college can apply for this scholarship. You must complete at least two semesters in an undergraduate program to apply for this program. 

The Emerge Scholarship Fund: This fund provides grants and scholarships to women who terminated their education due to financial reasons and wish to return to school to complete their higher education. 

These are merit-based awards, especially for women who have given back to their communities.

The AARP Foundation Scholarship: Women over the age of 50 who are pursuing their education in a vocational school can apply for this scholarship. The scholarship is primarily for women who have faced financial challenges in their families and workplace. 

The Jeannette Rankin Women’s Scholarship Fund: This fund awards scholarships to women from low-income groups who are 35 years or older. Applicants must be pursuing a degree or vocational training.

How to Apply for Grants

Steps to Apply for Grants

  • Research available grants: Start by researching available grants that are specific to your field of study, educational level, and other eligibility criteria. You can find grant opportunities through online search engines, the financial aid office of the school you plan to attend, and professional organizations related to your field of study.
  • Check eligibility requirements: Once you have identified potential grant opportunities, review the eligibility requirements to ensure you meet all the criteria. Some grants may have specific requirements related to academic achievement, financial need, or other factors.
  • Gather required documents: Most grant applications require specific documents, such as transcripts, personal statements, and letters of recommendation. Gather all the necessary documents and ensure they are up-to-date and accurate.
  • Complete the application: Follow the instructions carefully and ensure you provide all the required information. Pay attention to deadlines, as many grants have strict application deadlines.
  • Submit the application: Once you have completed it, submit it according to the instructions. Some grants may require you to apply online, while others require a paper application.

Documents Required for Grant Applications

The required documents for grant applications may vary depending on the specific grant, but some common documents include:

  • Transcripts: Most grant applications require transcripts from all colleges and universities attended.
  • Personal statement: A personal statement outlining your academic and career goals, as well as why you are applying for the grant.
  • Letters of recommendation: Letters of recommendation from professors, employers, or other professionals who can attest to your academic abilities and potential.
  • Financial information: Some grants may require information about your income and assets to determine financial need.

Tips for Successful Grant Applications

  • Start early: Begin your grant application process well before the deadline to ensure that you have enough time to gather all the required documents and complete the application.
  • Follow instructions: Pay close attention to the application instructions and ensure you provide all the required information.
  • Be specific: Provide specific examples of your academic achievements, career goals, and financial need to make your application stand out.
  • Highlight your strengths: Emphasize your strengths and achievements in your personal statement and letters of recommendation.
  • Proofread: Double-check your application for spelling and grammar errors, and ensure all the information is accurate and up-to-date.
  • Apply for multiple grants: Apply for as many grants as you are eligible to increase your chances of receiving funding.

Advantages of Grants

Grants can offer several advantages to students who are seeking to pursue higher education, including:

  • Financial support: Grants provide students with financial support that does not have to be repaid. This can help students cover the cost of tuition, fees, textbooks, and other educational expenses.
  • Access to education: Grants can help make education more accessible to students who might not otherwise be able to afford it. This can help increase the number of students who can pursue higher education and achieve their academic and career goals.
  • Flexibility: Unlike loans, which come with strict repayment terms and interest charges, grants are typically more flexible. They can cover various educational expenses and do not have to be repaid.
  • Opportunity to focus on studies: Because grants provide financial support, students may be able to focus more on their studies and spend less time working to cover their educational expenses.
  • Recognition of academic achievements: Many grants are awarded based on academic achievement, recognizing students who have worked hard to excel in their studies.
  • Opportunities for research and innovation: Some grants are awarded specifically for research or innovation in a particular field, providing students with opportunities to explore their interests and make important contributions to their fields of study.

Challenges While Applying for Grants

While grants can provide significant financial support to students pursuing higher education, there are also several challenges that students may face when applying for grants, including:

  • Competition: Many grants have a limited amount of funding available, and as a result, there is often fierce competition among applicants. This can make it difficult for students to secure grant funding.
  • Eligibility requirements: Grants often have specific eligibility requirements that students must meet to be considered for funding. These requirements may include academic achievement, financial need, or other factors that may be difficult for some students to meet.
  • Application process: The grant application process can be complex and time-consuming. Students may need to gather a significant amount of documentation and provide detailed information about their academic and personal backgrounds.
  • Deadlines: Grant applications often have strict deadlines, making it challenging for students to complete their applications on time, especially if they are juggling other academic or personal responsibilities.
  • Limited availability: Some grants may only be available to students pursuing certain fields of study or attending certain schools. This can make it challenging for students who do not meet the specific criteria to find grant funding.
  • Uncertainty: Even after completing the grant application process, students may still be uncertain whether they will receive funding. This uncertainty can make it difficult for students to plan for their educational expenses and future goals.


Grants are an important source of financial support for adult learners who want to go back to school. They can help cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, and other expenses associated with higher education. Applying for grants may seem daunting, but with the right resources and strategies, it can be a worthwhile investment in your future.

If you’re considering going back to school as an adult learner, don’t hesitate to explore your options for grants and other forms of financial aid. With careful planning and research, you may be able to find the funding you need to achieve your educational goals.

Remember, going back to school can be a significant investment of time, money, and effort, but it can also lead to personal and professional growth, new opportunities, and a brighter future. Whether you’re pursuing a degree to advance your career or to pursue a lifelong passion, grants can be a valuable tool to help you achieve your goals.

New England Institute of Technology (NEIT) offers various financial assistance programs to help adult learners complete their education. If you’re an adult learner looking to complete your education, be sure to explore your options for financial assistance, including the programs available at NEIT.


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What is the easiest grant to get?

There is no one “easiest” grant to get, as the availability and eligibility criteria for grants vary widely. Grants can be highly competitive and require significant effort to apply for and win.

That being said, some grants may have less competition than others, depending on the field of study, location, or specific eligibility criteria.

To increase your chances of receiving a grant, it’s important to research and identify grants that align with your background, interests, and goals, and to ensure that you meet all of the eligibility criteria before applying. Additionally, a strong application showcasing your qualifications and achievements can help set you apart from other applicants.

How do I go back to school with no money?

You can go back to school with no money by applying for grants, scholarships, and student loans. These grants can help cover your basic expenditure. You can also look for part-time jobs to cover your travel and living expenses.

How much money in grants can I get for college?

The amount of money in grants you can get for college depends on various factors, including your financial need, the cost of attendance at the college or university you plan to attend, and the availability of grants you are eligible for.

Is there a limit to financial aid?

Yes, there is a limit to the amount of financial aid a student can receive. The maximum amount of financial aid that a student can receive depends on several factors, including the cost of attendance at their school, their Expected Family Contribution (EFC), and the type of financial aid they receive.

Additionally, some schools and states may have their own limits on financial aid awards. It’s important for students to research the financial aid options available to them carefully and to understand the maximum amount of aid they can receive.

Can I Apply for Grants with a Felony Conviction or Criminal Background?

Whether or not someone with a criminal background can receive a grant depends on the grant provider’s policies and the nature of the offense. Some grants may have restrictions based on criminal history, while others review applications on a case-by-case basis.

Applicants should disclose any criminal history honestly and be aware of eligibility requirements and grant provider policies.

Will FAFSA cover my entire tuition?

In some cases, FAFSA may cover a student’s entire tuition, but this is not always the case. The amount of aid awarded through FAFSA may not be enough to cover the full cost of tuition, particularly at private or out-of-state schools.

Ultimately, the financial aid a student receives through FAFSA and other sources will depend on their circumstances, including their financial need and the cost of attendance at their chosen school.

Does FAFSA pay monthly?

No, FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) does not pay monthly. If you are eligible for federal financial aid, the funds are usually disbursed to your college or university in a lump sum at the beginning of each academic term (such as the start of the semester or quarter).

After your tuition and fees are paid, any remaining funds will be sent to you by check or direct deposit for other educational expenses, such as textbooks, housing, and transportation. Budgeting and managing your funds wisely ensure you have enough money to cover all your costs throughout the academic term.

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