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Five Federal Grants for College Students

While student aid is definitely competitive, there are a great many resources out there if you're just beginning your post-secondary education. Almost every college, university, or trade school offering online classes and degrees has a financial aid office or student aid website. Students often give up on aid or turn to loans before exploring all their options for grants. Grants may have conditions for receiving awards, but do not require repayment. And while they won't entirely pay for your education, they can take a dent out of your costs for books and other fees.

Here are five Federal grants available for students of higher learning:

1. Teach Grant Program. This is the newest grant program, created by Congress' College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007. Students who enroll in undergraduate or graduate-level teacher training programs and who are committed to classroom teaching can receive $4,000 a year in grants toward tuition. You must commit to teach for four academic years in a elementary or secondary school serving low-income students to qualify.

2. Federal Pell Grant. This is a jumpstart grant to students beginning undergrad work for the first time. Grants for 2008 are approximately $4,731 a year and are based on economic needs and education costs.

3. Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant. The FSEOG is for students with extreme financial need. Lowest income students get first priority for these $100 and $4,000 a year grants.

4. Academic Competitiveness Grant. The AC Grant is a relatively new grant, created to supplement Pell grantees based on their academic aptitude or accomplishment. First-year students receive $750 in addition to the Pell Grant; second-year students with at least a 3.0 grade average can receive up to an additional $1,300 a year.

5. A National SMART Grant. Third and fourth-year students who qualify for a Pell Grant and have at least a 3.0 grade point average are eligible to apply for an additional $4,000 a year. To qualify, you must be majoring in the sciences, engineering, mathematics, technology, or in a foreign language determined by the federal government to be critical to national security.

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