Every year, hundreds of students pay more than they need to for education. There are so many opportunities for a student to get money for college through grants and free scholarships that nearly anyone should be able to find a program he or she qualifies for.
Some grants are offered to individuals with low incomes, while others are meant for students fulfilling a certain academic pursuit or career. Although requirements vary tremendously among programs, money is available for individuals from many different walks of life, no matter their socioeconomic status or grade point average.
While there are multiple types of financial aid, the best option for most students is a scholarship or grant. Student loans must be paid back and accrue interest. Scholarships and grants, on the other hand, do not need to be repaid.
Scholarships are usually awarded based on the student’s academic merit or financial need. Grants, on the other hand, are designed to help students overcome challenges they face or to promote learning by any particular institution.
Many opportunities are available for students of ethnic minorities, women, or non-traditional students. Additionally, some high-demand fields such as nursing or teaching have grant opportunities. The largest contributing factor to grant eligibility is income; students with low income have many grants available through several different venues.
Grants might be given by the federal or state government, or in some cases private organizations offer grants. Depending on how much money you need and what your qualifications are, you may be better suited to one type of aid than another, but it’s well worth your time to research all of your options.
A federal grant program available to any student with demonstrated financial need. The maximum loan amount is $5,550 per year and is calculated depending on your financial need and the cost of your chosen education program. Funds are available to full-time and part-time students.
To apply, you must fill out a FAFSA and submit an application through your college’s financial aid office. More information about federal Pell Grants is available here.
Available from $100 to $4,000, awarded to students with great financial need. Information is available here.
Open to high school graduates and college freshmen, this grant is available to any full-time student with financial need. Applications are available to students with a completed FAFSA through the student financial aid office. Further information about this program is available here.
Provided to students with financial need who do not qualify for other grants or scholarships. This program offers $1,000 per semester for a total of eight semesters so long as the student remains in good standing with the university. Applications are available through the financial aid office. Further information can be obtained here.
Available to students attending public universities and certain qualifying private institutions, this grant program allows for $200 to $2,500 per year to students with financial need. Part-time students can also qualify for this grant. Applications should be submitted through the financial aid office. Additional information is available here.
In addition to grants, many students qualify for scholarship programs. While many scholarships are dependent upon financial need, most also do require the student to maintain good academic standing to renew the scholarship. Some have more rigorous academic requirements.
Scholarships with high academic merit requirements will usually pay more to students than those available to all students. Please note that while many scholarships can be renewed each semester, if you fail to maintain the necessary GPA or other requirements you may not reapply.
Students from Santa Fe, Rio Arriba, Taos, Los Alamos, San Miguel and Mora counties are eligible for this scholarship if they demonstrate financial need. Students can apply as high school seniors or college freshmen or sophomores. Funds are sent directly to the university to cover the cost of tuition, fees, and books. Information about this scholarship program is available here.
A scholarship designed to help economically disadvantaged students pursue full-time or part-time education. To apply a student must fill out the FAFSA to display financial need. The scholarship provides a maximum of $2,500 a year and is renewable if the student remains in good standing with the university.
Students with financial need can qualify from $500 to $3,000 per year to pay college expenses through this program. The primary purpose of this scholarship program is to provide a bridge between college costs and existing financial aid. To qualify you must be a full-time student with demonstrated financial need. The scholarship can be awarded to both recent high school graduates as well as current college students.
Funds for this scholarship are gathered through the New Mexico State Lottery and are dispensed by the Higher Education Department of the state. The scholarship funds are paid toward tuition and can be renewed for a total of eight semesters as long as the student maintains the necessary requirements.
In order to qualify for this scholarship, students must meet certain base criteria:
This scholarship is intended for New Mexico students of high academic merit who also have economic need. This scholarship can be renewed if the student continues to maintain high academic standards. Funds can be used to cover tuition, books, and fees, and an application for this scholarship can be filled out at the financial aid office of your university.
The criteria to obtain this scholarship are as follows:
An academic scholarship of up to $1,500 per year awarded to students with high merit. This scholarship stands out from others of its kind in that it can be used at any university, not just a New Mexico institution. The program is government-funded and is available to any student who performs well on the ACT exam.
This is a one-time scholarship of $1,000 awarded to New Mexico high school graduates to help cover the costs of the student’s first year of university work. Students must have a 3.5 GPA to qualify, and can apply through their school’s financial aid office.
Some programs are designed to encourage graduates to stay in New Mexico and provide services to the state. If you are pursuing a medical or teaching degree, you can receive additional funding and also alleviate some of your student loan debt by agreeing to work in the state for a certain period after graduation. If you choose, you may leave the state to pursue work elsewhere after you have fulfilled your teaching or medical service commitment.
A merit-based award available to students in the third or fourth year of study pursuing a degree useful toward Homeland Security: math, science, engineering, and certain foreign languages. Eligible students may receive up to $4,000.
Designed to help those in early childhood development majors further their education, this scholarship can be used to fund an associate, bachelors, or masters degree. Funding comes from several sources including private donations and the Department of Education. Further information on this program is available here.
Students who graduate from a teaching program can agree to commit to working in a New Mexico public school after graduation in exchange for payment of student loan debt. Students must display academic achievement as well as financial need. This program can be applied for through FAFSA.
Similar to the teacher loan-for-service program, this offers students an opportunity to pay back student loans by committing themselves to provide medical service in an underprivileged area of New Mexico following graduation from medical school. Students may apply through FAFSA and must exhibit financial need and academic merit.
Due to the number of Native American tribes located in and around New Mexico, several programs for American Indians are available in this state. Additionally, there may be further benefits to tribe members when attending a land grant college such as New Mexico State University.
American Indian students enrolled full-time in a New Mexico university are eligible to receive this scholarship if they meet the academic standards of the program. In order to qualify, students must be a member of a federally recognized tribe and maintain a 3.0 GPA. If you receive this award you are also committed to teaching New Mexico American Indian students after the completion of your degree.
A one-time scholarship for tribe members with a demonstrated financial need. In order to qualify, students must display a letter or proof of heritage form and maintain a 2.75 GPA. Generally the scholarship provides $500 to undergraduate students to put toward the cost of college expenses, but assistance may be available for graduate students as well.
Available to any federally accredited tribe member. Approximately 2,000 scholarships are awarded each year ranging from $500 to $1,500. Interested students can apply through the American Indian Services program.
In addition to government-funded financial aid programs, some community organizations or private institutions provide student aid. It’s best to research each of these programs individually as requirements will vary substantially depending upon the program’s scope.
Sometimes private lenders will have student grants or scholarships available. You can ask your local bank if they have any such programs or know where one may be available.
There are literally hundreds of opportunities available to students requiring assistance with financial aid. In addition to the options listed above, you can see what other scholarships and grants are available to you by contacting your financial aid office and inquiring about free student aid programs. Bear in mind that in order to qualify for student aid you will need to complete the FAFSA and submit the appropriate applications.