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Grants and Federal Aid for the Unemployed

written by: Tia Ahmed•edited by: Laurie Patsalides•updated: 6/27/2011

Times are rough and employment seeking individuals or those that used to be in employed may feel out of luck and alone in a world where having at least a bachelor's degree is the bare minimum. Federal aid for the unemployed may be one of the answers to making some people's dreams come true.

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    Use FAFSA

    The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, is a U.S. form that is processed and filed by the U.S. Department of Education to basically determine how much, if any, the applicant may receive or could receive in the near future once accepted. Since the process itself is free of charge, many students can easily apply for college grants; for unemployed students, it helps cover some of the costs and avoid going into a lot of debt in the future. For a full list of eligibility and other miscellaneous requirements, go to FAFSA's official website or contact your financial adviser or counselor.

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    Unemployed? No Problem

    One of the biggest fears for applying for federal aid for college and unemployment is having little work experience. Regardless of any other federal aid, the federal aid for college grants for unemployed students is on the rise as more students enroll for double or triple degrees in their fields of interest.

    Being unemployed at the time, during, or before application for a federal grant is not a problem as employment status is usually not a requirement. As long as the requirements, which does not include employment status, are met, then the student will receive as much as that student is eligible for. The system and how one acquires the financial aid through FAFSA or private scholarships is up to the provider, for instance, the student will have very little control over what amounts will transfer in and there are strict rules included. One thing to note is that the money is provided first and foremost for academic purposes and the student must be careful and remain within the legal restrictions.

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    State Scholarships or Private School Grants

    Every state is different when it comes to offering scholarships and some institutions end up offering more private grants and scholarships than federal aid. Depending on the college, the assessment for scholarships may depend based on need (find more information about need based scholarships by state right here on Bright Hub), they determine the need based on the student's household income, or if they are a dependent, based on their parent's or legal guardian's household income and assets.

    Some scholarships have an expiration and what happens after the first year of receiving a grant or scholarship may not be consistent. The best way to find out eligibility of scholarships is to contact the financial department of the college and work with someone there or have a financial adviser already assigned on the student's case. Most colleges are willing to work with students and not against them, but since money is an important asset to have, always double check for future scholarships applications and such.

    Private school grants are not based on need most of the time and are free for students based on specific majors, minors, GPA, or even lottery. One of the things that North Carolina is known for is their state higher education lottery where the winners have a chance to earn towards their degree. Students should take advantage of such grants if they qualify, but always be wary if the application is not free or of low cost.

    Regardless of what type of grant one gets, college grants for unemployed students is not a rare thing and everyone can greatly benefit from federal, private, and state specific grants either based on need or academic excellence. Unemployment should not hinder one from a higher education.