Learn About Government Grants

If you are a low-income individual or family, there are many government grants available that you may qualify for. Government grants range from state and federal assistance programs that include the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Housing Choice Voucher Program and Medicaid health insurance. These grants help low-income families with aid to pay for household bills, education expenses for college and other educational opportunities.

If you or your family is struggling to pay utility bills, make home repairs or improvements, or advance your education, government grants may benefit you greatly. However, before you apply, you are going to need to know how these grants work and if you meet the requirements.

What are government grants?

Government grants are a type of aid that offers free money to qualifying individuals or families. While most government grants cater to low-income households, each grant has its own eligibility requirements. Depending on the grant, you may need to meet particular family requirements to be eligible.

Do government grants need to be repaid?

Typically, you do not need to repay government grants as long as you use the money as the grant intended. Meaning, that if you receive federal financial aid and you do not attend the minimum number of classes for the grant, you will no longer meet the grant’s requirements.

If this occurs, the grant may convert into a loan, which you will need to pay back. Therefore, before you apply for a state or federal grant, you need to be sure that you will use the free money as intended.

Learn About the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is a grant that provides qualifying low-income families with assistance with paying their heating or cooling bills. A LIHEAP grant is designed to prevent households from having its utility services shutdown. It also pays for specific home improvements that are more energy efficient to lower the utility bill for the household.

Overall, the grant helps households reduce or eliminate the costs of electricity and heating bills. When you apply for a LIHEAP grant, you should know that the funds cannot be used for water and sewage bills.  

LIHEAP assistance is usually available to low-income households that meet the requirements and who already receive assistance from a state or federal program, such as SNAP, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI), or the Housing Choice Voucher Program, formerly Section 8.

It is important to know that some of LIHEAP’s eligibility requirements will depend on the specific state or county. Therefore, to apply for LIHEAP, you must locate the nearest LIHEAP office. Since there is a limited amount of funds available, you should apply as soon as possible.

Discover the Individuals and Households Program (IHP)

If the President of the United States declares a natural disaster and you were affected by it, your household may be eligible for disaster assistance and grant assistance. Provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), grants from the Individuals and Households Program (IHP) can be used to replace or repair damaged houses.

Grant money can also be used to get assistance with temporary housing. To be eligible for IHP, you must be a U.S. Citizen or qualified non-citizen and:

You experienced losses in the area where the president declared a disaster zone.
The property that received the losses is your primary residence and has damages related to the natural disaster.
You can no longer live or get to your primary residence.
You do not have insurance coverage, or it does not provide enough funds to cover the damage from the natural disaster.

To apply for IHP, you will need to contact FEMA.

Find Out About Section 504 Rural Housing Repair and Rehabilitation Grants

If eligible, your household may qualify for the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) 504 Rural Housing Repair and Rehabilitation grant. This grant is designed to provide very-low-income households loans to repair, improve, or modernize their homes.

It also gives grants to eligible households composed of the elderly who are also very-low-income who need to remove health and safety hazards. To qualify, your home must be in a rural area recognized by the USDA.

You can apply for the Section 504 Rural Housing Repair and Rehabilitation grant assistance at your local USDA office. While there, the USDA will determine if your household meets the requirements based on personal information such as your citizenship and income.

It will also take into account questions about your home, such as the repairs or improvements in question and whether or not you rent or own your home. If you have questions about this loan, you can contact the USDA before you apply.

Learn About Financial Aid for Low-Income Students

The Federal Government knows how important it is for individuals and households to advance their education, which is why it offers low-income students with grant opportunities. Although many different grants offer students with financial aid, eligibility for these programs is often determined by:

The financial needs of the applicant.
The applicant’s citizenship status. To apply, the applicant must be a U.S. Citizen or an eligible non-citizen.
Whether the applicant is in good standing with any other federal student loans, if applicable.
Whether the applicant has acceptance for an eligible degree or certificate program.
Whether the applicant maintains strong academic progress when he or she receives the federal grant money.

When applying for federal student aid programs, you should know that some require that applicants work towards a specific degree. Or, it may ask applicants to attend specific classes. For example, the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) grant is only available to applicants who plan on becoming a teacher.

Also, recipients may need to agree to specific requirements to maintain the grant, such as completing four academic years within eight years after they complete their higher education program where they intend to teach professionally.

To apply for student aid, you will first need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Your FAFSA application will determine how much financial aid you need and what types of grants may be available to you. You must be sure to complete the application before the academic deadline.