Government Grants For Adults Who Want to Go Back to School

June 30, 2021

If you’re an adult who wants to go back to school or college, you may be eligible for government 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. 

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 that you’re eligible for every year. After submitting your FAFSA form, schools will notify you of the amount you are eligible to receive.

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Keep reading for more information about what government grants are available. 

Going Back to College?

If you’ve decided to go back to college, then you’ve already taken a major first step in the right direction. Still, financing your education can be stressful. 

Paying for tuition is a major hurdle for most Americans. Many students drop out due to a lack of funds, while others struggle to complete their education. Adult students often have family and work obligations that add to their financial burden. 

Fortunately, there are opportunities, you will have a hassle-free experience when you go back to school. You can apply for a student loan, federal grants, state grants, and scholarships for non-traditional students. These programs could substantially reduce the cost of attendance for returning students.

In this article, we’ll be covering the various grants that you can apply for, their application process, and eligibility to help you fulfil your dream of a college education.

What are the types of Government Grants?

Government grants to go back to school for adults

The United States Department of Education (ED) 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 that is awarded to students who display exceptional financial needs. A student who has enrolled in a post baccalaureate teacher certification program might also be eligible for this grant. 

You must first successfully fill out 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 maximum Federal Pell Grant you can get in the academic year 2021-22 (1st July 2021-30th June 2022) is $6,495.

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 is the grant that you’ll receive. 
  • Cost of Attendance (COA): COA is a fixed amount decided by the college as per the program you enrol 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.
Federal Pell Grant

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, 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 that is 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 who have 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 that 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. 

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)

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 degree in teaching or educational administration, you can apply for the TEACH grant through FAFSA. 

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

Adult students who apply for this grant are eligible to 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.

Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant

This grant is specifically for students whose parents passed away during their military services in Iraq or Afghanistan. 

Adult students going back to school can apply for this program through FAFSA even if their EFC exceeds the Federal Pell income criteria. However, you must be under 24 years of age or be enrolled in a college program during your parent’s or guardian’s death.

According to the latest Budget Control Act, 2011, you can get maximum grant money of $5,983.34 in 2021.

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.

Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant

Grants for Women Going Back to School

There are excellent grants and scholarships 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 that returning students get also 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 who are about to finish high school. 

The local chapters of the organization 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 go to college in the US or Canada and need help to pay 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 schools to complete their higher education. 

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

Grants for Women Going Back to School

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 family 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.

Grant Eligibility

A student must keep in mind that these grants are different from student loans, and therefore, funding agencies reward these grants only to students with financial needs. Applicants must complete their FAFSA form every year to continue receiving grants. 

Certain additional requirements vary from program to program that applicants must fulfill. They may include:

  • In the case of the TEACH grant, you must complete the service requirements to avoid repayment of the grant at given interest rates. 
  • You won’t be eligible for the Federal Pell Grants if you are incarcerated in a federal or state prison. If you are subject to a civil commitment upon completing your incarceration for a forcible sexual or non-sexual offense, you can not apply for these aid programs.
  • Your Expected Family Contribution must not exceed the cost of attendance when you apply for any of these scholarships.

Dos and Don’ts for a Candidate

Always ensure that you thoroughly read the information on the agency’s website. Before applying, make sure you meet all eligibility requirements. If you apply for a student loan instead of a grant, always look at the interest rates to avoid a high student loan debt. 

A college student must also fulfill the service requirements, if any, to avoid repaying the grants. 

Do not miss any application deadlines and be wary of online scams. While submitting your information online, be careful, as your details may be misused for identity fraud. Do not submit your data or fall for a funding agency that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) lists as scams. Do not fall for schemes that guarantee free money without any effort.

Dos and don’ts for a candidate of government grant

Coverage and Limitations

Non-traditional students and adults must realize the limitations of the grants that the federal government pays for school. Read the information brochure carefully to understand what your grants will cover. Some grants may only cover your tuition and the cost of books, while others may give you the freedom to spend it on travel and living expenses.

If the funding agency sends the funds directly to your school or college, meet the office assistant or in-charge to understand the requirements for withdrawing the funds. 


Government grants and scholarships are a great way to overcome financial hurdles as you return to your education. If you’re a worker or have left your studies for other reasons, you can fill out the FAFSA application form for these grants. 

The college and program that you enroll for also play a key role in ensuring that you get maximum benefits from these grants. The college and program that you enroll for also determine if you get the maximum benefit available.

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What is the easiest grant to get?

All grants depend upon your financial needs. If you demonstrate an exceptional financial requirement, then the funding agency will approve your grants easily.

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?

You can get a maximum government grant of $6,495 annually. The amount of grant differs according to location, program, and need.

Is there a limit to financial aid?

Yes. There is a limit of $6,495 annually to the financial aid that the federal government provides.

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