Scholarships and grants are the most highly-sought forms of financial aid since they do not need to be paid back. In general, there is no limit to the number of combined scholarships and grants a student can receive, although the award totals may be restricted by the cost of attendance at a student’s school.
Federal Grant limits
Students who meet the eligibility criteria are only allowed to receive one each of the four Government grant programs per academic year.
Pell Grant – Offered to undergraduate students demonstrating financial need. The maximum award for the 2020-2021 academic year is $6,345. Students are only eligible to receive a Pell Grant for 12 total semesters or equivalent academic period.
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant – Awarded to students who demonstrate financial needs beyond the Pell Grant. The award is given at the school’s discretion, and ranges between $100-$4,000 per year.
TEACH Grant – Offered to students who commit to work as an educator in a high-need field or in a low-income school. The grant awards up to $4,000 per year.
Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant – Given to students who do not qualify for a Pell Grant, but who lost a parent to military service following the events of 9/11. The maximum award is equal to the maximum Pell Grant for a given academic year.
The award disbursement for federal grants is split evenly during each academic period. Disbursement is the process of distributing financial aid do the student.
In order to receive a federal grant, students must file their FAFSA®.
Scholarships and non-Federal Grants
In addition to federal grants, needy students may qualify for State-offered grant programs. Students can expect to only be eligible for one of each kind of grant offered by their State each academic year.
While schools may limit the number of scholarships they offer to a student, there is typically no limit set on scholarships offered by outside entities.
As long as your child has the required skills or abilities to win multiple scholarships, there is unlikely to be anything stopping him or her from winning as many as they can.
There are millions of scholarships awarded each year, totaling in billions of dollars in aid. Scholarships are offered for the following reasons:
- Merit-Based Scholarships: These funding opportunities are awarded to students based on academic, special talent or athletic achievements.
- Need-Based Scholarships: These scholarships are designed for students who demonstrate an appropriate level of financial need. You’ll typically need to fill out the FAFSA® to qualify for one of these.
- Demographics-Based Scholarships: These funding opportunities don’t depend on your grades or your level of financial need. Instead, they’re awarded to college students who fall into certain categories, such as ethnicity, religion, or gender.
Search high and low to find scholarships that pertain to your child’s talents, interests or background. Here are four databases to help make your search easier:
Unlike grants, most scholarships will require students to prove their candidacy, although this typically means you’ll have to write an essay on a specific topic. When applying for multiple scholarships, it’s important to stay organized and keep track of deadlines and requirements.
Scholarships, Grants and the Cost of Attendance
The primary factor that will limit the amount of scholarships and grants your child can receive is his or her school’s Cost of Attendance. A school’s Cost of Attendance is the total amount it will cost a student to attend for the academic year.
The cost of attendance includes:
- Tuition and fees
- Room and Board
- Books and supplies
- Personal expenses
Financial aid awards determined by a school can’t exceed the the school’s cost of attendance.
Scholarships provided by outside entities, particularly those that disburse the award directly to the student, often will not factor a school’s cost of attendance into their decision.