Paying for housing while in school is a major expense, but grants and scholarships can be used to cover this cost. Complete the FAFSA® to get awards from the federal government, and look for options from your state and college to help pay for housing.
What Grants Help With College Housing?
Federal grants, state grants, and institutional grants may be applied to cover the cost of college housing. Private funds, such as the Jeannette Rankin Women’s Scholarship, may also be used to pay for housing.
Complete the FAFSA® (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) to receive financial aid from the government. The application process is simple and can be completed in an afternoon. The FAFSA® gives you access to Pell Grants (up to $6,195), Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (up to $4,000), Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grants (up to $4,000), and Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants (up to $5,920). All of these can be used for housing.
You may receive additional grants and scholarships from your state of residence. In California, for example, you can apply for Cal Grants when you submit your FAFSA®. These awards go to high school seniors who will attend a California University. Check with your school’s financial aid department to see what state grants are available and whether you’re eligible to apply.
Your school may also offer grants and scholarships to help cover housing. Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, for example, offers grants up to $4,000 specifically for housing to students in need. Again, you’ll need to check with your financial aid department to learn more about these opportunities, whether you’re eligible, and how you can apply.
In cases where you risk losing your housing or being unable to continue your education because you can’t afford a place to live, you can reach out to emergency housing services for assistance. For example, Catholic Charities — a nonprofit and the fifth-largest charity in the United States — provides emergency housing assistance through one-time financial aid. This can be used to pay rent or mortgage. United Way 211 is another resource you can use if you need emergency help with paying for housing.
Voucher Programs and Public Housing
Voucher programs and public housing assistance can help low-income students find places to live. The voucher program, also known as Section 8, allows individuals who make 50 percent of the median income in the area to live in any home where a landlord accepts these vouchers.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development also has a public housing program where you’ll pay a percent of your income for rent. You must make less than 50 percent of the median income to participate in this program, too.
Note that these programs often have long waiting lists. If you qualify and need housing assistance, apply as soon as possible.
There are dozens of awards and programs available to help you pay for college. Take advantage of the FAFSA® in particular. Applying is free, and it will connect you with dozens of options for financial assistance.
“California Student Aid Commission – What Is a Cal Grant?” Organization Title, www.csac.ca.gov/doc.asp?id=905.
“Federal Pell Grant Program.” Home, US Department of Education (ED), 4 June 2015, www2.ed.gov/programs/fpg/index.html.