If you are confused about how grants work and how to get them, you are not alone. You've probably seen commercials and ads that make grants seem like easy money. While grants are indeed out there, finding the ones you can qualify and apply for can be hard work. However, learning which organizations offer the grants you need is half the battle. Searching the databases of a few key websites will help get you up to speed.
To search and apply for federal grants, visit Grants.gov. Federal grants are not benefits or entitlements but rather financial assistance for useful public service projects you agree to perform. A vast majority of federal grants are awarded to nonprofits, universities, businesses, state and city governments, etc. Examples of federal grants available to individuals include summer stipends from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and DuBois fellowships from the National Institute of Justice (NIJ).
If you are in college, apply for federal student aid at FAFSA.gov. Federal Student Aid, which is a branch of the U.S. Department of Education, offers grants based on need, loans and work-study programs. Also, explore available grants directly through the U.S. Department of Education (Ed.gov) by going to its "Grant Opportunities" page. Examples include various fellowships, grants for teachers and education equality for women.
To get any kind of personal assistance, visit Benefits.gov to see if you qualify for help with housing, health care, family services, career development, loan consolidation and even food stamps. You can search for benefits based on the type of assistance you need and then get instructions for how to apply.
To get small-business startup loans or grants, go to the Small Business Administration website (SBA.gov). The SBA does not give out grants for starting or expanding small businesses, but it does support numerous loan programs that can help finance your startup. The grants that SBA does offer are usually given to nonprofits or state and city governments, which, in turn, provide small-business management or training assistance.
It is always free to apply for grants, and the instructions are also free. Beware of scammers that repackage free information and sell it as grant kits for hefty fees.