5 Government Benefits Every Student Needs To Know About

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When it comes to the possibility of receiving financial aid for college, you don’t want to leave any money sources untapped.

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Federal student loans have been in the news all year as President Joe Biden continues to extend the loan repayment moratorium each time it expires (the current payment pause ends August 31). However, for those with exceptional financial needs, a federal loan might not be the answer for a student wanting to attend college.

A number of federal benefit programs might be just what a prospective college student is looking for because they (normally) don’t need to be repaid and can be applied for easily. In fact, three of the five federal programs listed below use the same application form.

According to Benefits.org, most federal programs require students applying for financial aid for college or career school to start by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Your personal and financial information collected on the FAFSA is used by schools and the Department of Education to determine your need and eligibility for student aid.

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There are other programs run by the U.S. Department of State that cannot be ignored, as well. Both the Pathways Internship Program and the Fulbright Award Program provide real-world experience and much-appreciated financial help to students.   

Here are five federal financial aid programs every student needs to know about:

1. Federal Pell Grants

Federal Pell Grants are awards designated for low-income undergraduate students — and, in rare cases, those enrolled in a post-baccalaureate teacher certification program — who display unique financial need and who have not yet earned a bachelor’s, graduate or professional degree. For the 2022-23 year (July 1, 2022 – June 30, 2023), the maximum Pell Grant is $6,895, per Federal Student Aid. 

Pell Grants are determined via the FAFSA process with the U.S. Department of Education deciding need and eligibility. They are administered by the educational institutes to which the student has been accepted. Grants are not loans; they don’t need to be re-paid, however, students may not receive Federal Pell Grant funds from more than one school at a time.

2. Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant Program (FSEOG)

Even though it is 75% funded by the U.S. government and considered a federal financial aid plan, the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant Program (FSEOG) is administered by individual schools, which fund 25% of this grant. It is a supplementary support system for high-need undergraduate students attending Title IV schools and prioritizes students who have already received funding from another aid program, like a Pell Grant, according to FinancialGrants.

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According to Forbes, the federal government awarded $875 million in FSEOG money to students from 3,500 schools during the 2021-22 academic year. FSEOG recipients typically receive between $100 and $4,000 per school year. Application for a FSEOG is done through a FAFSA.

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3. Federal Work-Study Program (FWS)

The Federal Work-Study Program (FWS) gives students the opportunity to gain valuable work experience and a way for students to earn money to pay for college through part-time campus (and sometimes off-campus) job placements. The FWS program promotes work relevant to the student’s field of study and community service work, per Benefits.gov.

As Forbes noted, the average work-study awards are around $1,850 and paid throughout the school year. However, not every school participates in the FWS and some award work-study placements in a first-come-first-serve basis. You will need to check your preferred school to see if they and get your FAFSA application in early.

4. Pathways Program Student Internships

Designed to provide appropriate work experience pertinent to a student’s accredited high school, professional, vocational and trade school field of study and career goals, the Pathways Internship Program offers participants the opportunity for work placement in a variety of career fields. The Internship Program recently replaced the Student Career Experience Program (SCEP), but the two programs have many of the same characteristics  

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Because the Internship Program can provide well-trained employees for career entry into the federal workforce, students who complete their academic program and work experience have the chance to be hired on permanently by their placement agency. All information about this type of federal support can be found on the U.S. Department of State website.

5. Fulbright Programs

Administrated by the U.S. Department of State, the Fulbright U.S. Student Program is an international student exchange program, offering fellowships for graduate students and college seniors. Originally established by President Harry S. Truman in 1946 to open communication and share ideas between people from different countries, the program now awards 8,000 fellowships per year for those seeking to study, research, teach and immerse themselves in a different host country, per ShareAmerica.

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According to The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, 40 Fulbright alumni have served as heads of state or government, 61 have won the Nobel Prize, 76 are MacArthur Foundation fellows and 89 have been awarded Pulitzer Prizes.

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About the Author

David Nadelle is a freelance editor and writer based in Ottawa, Canada. After working in the energy industry for 18 years, he decided to change careers in 2016 and concentrate full-time on all aspects of writing. He recently completed a technical communication diploma and holds previous university degrees in journalism, sociology and criminology. David has covered a wide variety of financial and lifestyle topics for numerous publications and has experience copywriting for the retail industry.
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