Engineering Student Grants
Need Financial Help Acquiring Your Engineering Degree?
Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, commonly referred to as the STEM subjects, offer some of the most lucrative grant and scholarship opportunities for students in the United States. Through the second half of the last century, the American student body began to fall behind their international peers in academic competitiveness, especially in the critical STEM fields. Over the last couple of decades the Federal government has pressed for a new emphasis on the sciences, and in particular engineering, leading to an increase in the availability of financial aid for students pursuing degrees in STEM related fields.
Grants for engineering students come from a variety of sources, including the Federal Government, Colleges and Universities, and Corporations and Professional Associations. Many of these grant programs target women and minorities as a way of diversifying a field that has been historically dominated by white males.
Engineering majors will find it easier to find suitable grant programs by determining early in their academic careers which field of engineering they wish to study. By focusing on the specific engineering fields in which they are interested, students can bypass those grant programs which are unsuitable, and concentrate on pursuing those that best suit their needs and status. The most common engineering specialties include:
- Environmental Engineering
- Civil Engineering
- Industrial Engineering
- Mechanical Engineering
- Computer Sciences
- Aerospace Engineering
Federal and State Grants
Federal and state governments have responded to the increased need for professionals in the STEM fields, and particularly in engineering, by offering grants for students pursuing degrees in these disciplines. The goal is to encourage students, especially minorities and women, to pursue careers in these high demand fields. When building their college funds, Engineering majors should first look to the available Federal and State sponsored programs that support students pursuing degrees in the STEM fields.
The following grants are available to students pursuing degrees in any of the high demand STEM fields, including engineering.
- The Federal Pell Grant is available to all undergraduate students, regardless of major, who can demonstrate the requisite level of financial need. Award amounts vary, but may not exceed $5,500 per academic year. The Federal Pell Grant may be received for no more than 12 semesters.
- The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) is a Federally funded campus-based grant that is available to students who have received a Pell Grant, but still have exceptional financial need. The FSEOG is only available at participating schools, but it is applicable to all students, regardless of major. Award amounts range from $100 to $4000.
- The Academic Competitiveness Grant is available to freshman and sophomore college students who have demonstrated a high level of academic achievement. Eligible students must be enrolled in a STEM related course of study and must maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA.***The Academic Competitiveness Grant has been suspended as of 2012***
- The National SMART Grant is available to junior and senior college students who are enrolled in a STEM related course of study at an accredited college or university. Students must demonstrate a high level of academic achievement and financial need.***The National SMART Grant has been suspended as of 2012 pending review***
In addition to the grant programs supported by the Federal government, many states across the country provide significant financial aid for their resident students. These state sponsored programs vary greatly between the states, and students should contact their state’s Department of Higher Education for information on grants, scholarships and loan forgiveness programs that may be applicable to them. Many state supported financial aid programs are general in nature, though some states do make special provision for students pursuing degrees in a STEM related subject.
Some examples of state supported grants applicable to engineering majors include:
- The Virginia Two Year College Transfer Grant is applicable to students who have received an Associate’s Degree at a two-year college who are transferring to a four-year college to continue their studies. Students must be residents of Virginia, and must be attending a state college or university. The maximum annual award is $1000. Students enrolled in a Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics program are eligible for an additional $1000 per year.
- The CBA Scholars Award is available to students in the state of Connecticut who are pursuing degrees in communications, electronics, or engineering. While predominantly designed for media and broadcasting majors, this award does offer financial assistance for students pursuing careers in related engineering fields such as software development and computer engineering.
Engineering majors should also investigate state sponsored general education grants that can be used to help meet the tuition costs associated with any degree program, including those devoted to any of the engineering related fields.
Engineering Grants from Colleges and Universities
Engineering majors may find that their college of attendance offers grant opportunities for deserving students. Campus-based grants are limited in nature, and vary greatly from school to school. Students interested in pursuing a career in any aspect of the engineering field will already be looking at colleges and universities that have state of the art departments and programs in their desired discipline, whether it be environmental engineering, mechanical engineering or computer sciences. When choosing a college, students should also take the time to investigate the campus-based financial aid opportunities that may be available to them.
The following few examples should illustrate the diversity of engineering colleges and programs around the country, and the financial aid opportunities that they offer.
- The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is one of the top engineering schools in the United States. MIT offers degrees in a wide variety of engineering related fields, including aeronautics, chemical engineering, civil and environmental engineering, electrical engineering and computer sciences. The financial aid division at MIT handles both Federal and state sponsored grants, as well as offering the MIT Scholarship For Undergraduates. While referred to as a scholarship, this grant award is strictly determined on the basis of financial need. The average award per recipient is approximately $32,000.
- The College of Engineering at Michigan University – Ann Arbor offers degrees in a diverse array of engineering related fields, including biomedical engineering, chemical engineering, electrical engineering and nuclear engineering. The college offers a number of need-based grants for undergraduate students, including the M-PACT, the Michigan Grant and the Michigan Indian Tuition Waiver. Interested students should contact the university’s office of financial aid for more details.
- The University of California – Los Angeles leads the nation in a number of engineering fields, including biomedical engineering, computer sciences, environmental engineering and biomolecular engineering. UCLA offers a wide variety of both merit-based scholarships and need-based grants for its attending students. Need-based grants include the University of California Blue & Gold Opportunity Grant, and the Cal Grants Program for California residents.
Engineering majors will find that one of the most lucrative sources for college grants is the private sector. Many corporations and professional associations support grants and scholarships for students pursuing degrees in a variety of engineering fields. The purpose of these financial aid programs is to encourage talented students to pursue degrees and careers in all aspects of engineering. Because women and minorities have been historically under-represented in many engineering sub-disciplines, many of these private sector grants will place a greater emphasis on minority applicants.
The following grants and fellowships are indicative of the types of programs offered by professional associations.
- The National Society of Professional Engineers offers a wide variety of financial aid programs for student members, including the Maureen L. & Howard N. Bitman , P.E. Scholarship to Promote Diversity in Engineering. The program was developed to support women and ethnic minorities who are pursuing careers in an engineering related field. Annual awards are $5000. The NSPE also sponsors the PEG Management Fellowship and the PEC George B. Hightower, P.E. Fellowship for graduate level engineering students who have demonstrated exceptional academic ability and require financial assistance to complete their studies.
- The American Society for Engineering Education administers a number of independently funded scholarships and fellowships for engineering majors. Chief among the ASEE’s financial aid programs is the National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship Program. The grant provides three years of funding for students entering a graduate studies program in science or engineering. Each annual stipend is approximately $30,000.
- The Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers sponsors a wide array of scholarships and grants for Latin-American engineering students. Among the programs administered by the SHPE are the Northrop Grumman Scholarship, the Cisco Diversity Scholarship and the Shaw Industries Achievement Scholarship. To be eligible applicants must be student members of the SHPE.
- The American Society of Mechanical Engineers provides financial aid to student members of the association. The ASME supports a variety of scholarships, loans, and fellowships for students majoring in a mechanical engineering related field. To be eligible, students must enrolled full time in a Mechanical Engineering or Mechanical Engineering Technology program at an accredited community college, college or university. Award amounts vary depending on program, GPA, and financial need.
- The American Institute of Chemical Engineers sponsors a variety of grants and scholarships for students pursuing a degree in chemical engineering. For example, the John J. McKetta Undergraduate Scholarship provides up to $5000 in funding to junior and senior chemical engineering students with a minimum 3.0 GPA.
- The Association of Environmental & Engineering Geologists provides a number of scholarships and grants for students pursuing degrees related to environmental engineering or geological engineering. Among the many financial aid programs administered by the AEEG are the Beardsley-Kuper Field Camp Scholarship Fund (up to $3500), the Marliave Scholarship Fund (up to $3000), and the Richard Chambers Memorial Scholarship ($500 – $2000).
The field of Engineering is a large umbrella that covers a diverse array of disciplines. Students looking for grants or scholarships to help them complete their studies, should focus on those programs, colleges, and associations that are most closely aligned with their own field of interest. Students should also give due attention to general financial aid programs that can be applied to all STEM fields, including engineering.