Indiana Student Grants for College
A grant is money that does not have to be paid back, and is need based. Need based means a student wouldn't have the opportunity to attend college due to lack of cash. Indiana college grants are designed for students who have a low expected family contribution toward college expenses.
Qualifying for a grant is different than qualifying for a merit based scholarship. For example, merit-based scholarships may be awarded to students who have exceptional grades or athletic skills without regard to a family's economic situation.
If you qualify for assistance based on low income, you'll have an opportunity to be awarded a portion of the free money for college administered each year through grants.
The State Student Assistance Commission of Indiana
The State Student Assistance Commission of Indiana (SSACI) awards financial aid for college to Indiana residents who attend eligible colleges. All grants listed below are exclusively for Indiana students except the Pell Grant and The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, which are federal grants.
It is unlikely that one grant will cover a student's entire tuition and fees, so it is important to explore all free money options. Here are free money awards:
Frank O'Bannon Grant Program
The Frank O'Bannon Grant Program (formerly the Indiana Higher Education Grant) provides Indiana students money for college based on need. This grant includes both the Higher Education Award and the Freedom of Choice Award.
Award amounts fall between $200 and $4,700 per year. Indiana students who complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) are automatically considered for this Indiana college grant program based on the federal calculation determining their parent's contribution.
The award is distributed to the first Indiana school listed on the student's FAFSA so students must notify the SSACI if they go to another Indiana institution.
Grant awards for a full academic year usually disburse in one-half increments, one-half is disbursed to the student in the fall term, and the other half is disbursed in the spring. Students who are awarded the Frank O'Bannon Grant are also eligible for the summer state work study program to earn additional money for college.
Part-time Grant Program
The part-time Indiana college grant program is an excellent opportunity to combine a college education with life in the real world. Some students may not have the time to commit to a full-time college program due to work and family commitments.
Students who are planning to enroll in college on a part-time basis may apply for the Part-time Grant program. This term-based award is for undergraduates who enroll in at least 2 but less than 12 credit hours per term. The minimum award is $50 per term.
Hoosier Scholar Program
The Hoosier Scholar Award is a $500 non-renewable award that the recipient receives the first semester of his or her freshman year of college. While this award is smaller than some, it is still a good opportunity to defray college expenses.
This award is not just based on need, but also on merit (the student must rank in the top 20% of his or her class). The recipient is selected by high school guidance counselor staff. Usually one to three recipients are selected based on the size of the high school.
Twenty-first Century Scholars Program
Middle School is not too early to think about college in Indiana. Students enroll in the Twenty-first Century Scholars Program as 6th, 7th and 8th graders by pledging good citizenship to the state, and in return, they receive four years of undergraduate college tuition at a participating Indiana College.
In addition to fulfilling the pledge of good citizenship, other eligibility requirements include participating in the federal free/reduced lunch program, placement in foster care, or meeting family income requirements.
Students must also achieve a cumulative high school GPA of at least 2.0 on a 4.0 scale. Students in the Twenty-first Century Scholars Program also qualify for the Twenty-first Century Scholars GEAR UP Scholarship.
The program pays for summer school tuition a student might need before they enter their degree program. It is designed to help students who may need additional help preparing for college courses to help them become more successful college students.
Minority Teacher/Special Services ScholarshipMinority students (Black or Hispanic) who are interested in teaching careers may receive up to $4,000 annually from this scholarship. Non-minority students who are seeking a career as teacher may also receive up to $1,000 annually if they plan to pursue a Special Education teaching certification, or Occupational or Physical Therapy certification.
Nursing ScholarshipStudents who agree, in writing, to work as a registered nurse or licensed practical nurse in Indiana for two years following graduation may qualify for up to $5,000 annually under the Nursing Scholarship. While the SSACI administers this award, colleges are responsible for making the award. Check with your chosen Indiana college to determine whether or not their nursing program is approved for this scholarship.
Robert C. Byrd Honors ScholarshipThe Robert C. Byrd Honors Scholarship is a federally funded program. To be eligible, students must have excellent ACT scores and a strong academic record (a cumulative GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale). The maximum amount of the award is $1,500. These awards are made at the high school.
Pell Grants are not Indiana state grants, they are federal grants. However, awards are granted through information provided on the FAFSA. The maximum amount awarded is $5,550.
What a student receives is not only based on financial need, it is also based on costs to attend college, whether they are a full-time or part-time student and whether they plan to attend school for a full academic year. The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant is available for Pell Grant recipients with extreme financial need.
Pell Grant recipients with the least expected family contributions are the first to be considered. While all of these Indiana college grants and scholarships are need based, most of them share some common requirements of students. General requirements for eligibility for free grant money for Indiana students include:
- U.S. citizenship or proving you are an eligible non-citizen
- Indiana Residency for both the student and the student's parents
- A Social Security Number
- A High School Diploma or General Education Development Certificate (GED)
- Enrollment in an eligible program of study pursuing a degree at an eligible school
- No eligibility suspension or termination due to a drug-related conviction
- Registering with the Selective Service (for males between 18 and 25)
- Demonstrating financial need (low expected family contribution)
How to Apply
Eligibility for Indiana college grant programs are based on the information you provide on your FAFSA. While this application is for federal aid, it's also used to determine aid that you qualify for from your Indiana school or the State of Indiana.
You may complete your FAFSA online at www.fafsa.ed.gov. The FAFSA is also used to determine federal loans and federal work-study awards.
Complete the FAFSA
Each state has a different deadline for students to complete and submit the FAFSA to be eligible. Check the website and make sure you submit your application on time. There are limited amounts of funds to be distributed so prepare your application as early as possible so you are not left out. Be careful to fulfill the requirements of the FAFSA before you submit it so it is complete.
Since funding is limited, some grants will not be available if you do not file on time. You do not have to wait for all of your income tax information to be complete before you file, you may use estimated information
Following Up on Your Application
It is a good idea to check with the financial aid office of the school you plan to attend because some schools require a supplemental form in addition to the FAFSA to apply for state funded aid. Also, they can help you by using every available resource to create a financial aid package that will meet your needs.
Some financial aid awards will limit other possible awards, and the administrator in the financial aid office can identify potential problems in a financial aid package. It pays to keep your eyes and ears open, and let everyone know you are looking for financial aid opportunities.
You never know when you are talking to someone who is part of an organization that offers them. Most foundations offer scholarship opportunities and so do many professional organizations, local businesses and community groups.
Calls to local chapters of national organizations like the VFW, Rotary, Lions or Elks clubs may also result in free money opportunities. No one should give up a dream of going to college due to limited resources, or go into excessive debt to do so. Explore your options for free money for college through the State Student Assistance Commission of Indiana. There may be money available to you just because you live in the State of Indiana.