Maine Student Grants for College
Fund Your Education with Free Grant Money
With the rising cost of higher education today, nearly every student is looking for ways to reduce the money they will need to pay out for their extended learning. In addition to the rising cost, nearly every employer is looking for prospective employees who have college degrees.
One thing is certain, when it comes to paying for college: no matter which state, students always can use financial assistance. Students in Maine are no exception. One popular grant used among many Mainers is the Nextgen Student Grant Program. Nextgen works to create innovative technology to significantly improve how ready students are for college. They sponsor “Waves” of Grants to further their mission. To date, they have provided over $40 million to students’ education.
NextGen Student Grant Program
NextGen offers several different ways for Maine residents to receive a grant for higher education. One of their biggest grants is the Harold Alfond College Challenge Grant. This is for new-born babies in Maine who open a NextGen account before they reach one-year old.
Another grant NextGen offers is the Initial Matching Grant. All you have to do is register a NextGen account if your child is over one-year old. NextGen is a college savings program which qualifies as a Section 529 savings account.
It is administered by the Financial Authority of Maine, known as FAME.
Harold Alfond College Challenge
The Harold Alfond College Challenge is a scholarship program in Maine that gives a $500 grant to every newborn whose parents open a college savings account with NextGen. Any baby under one-year old is eligible. To stay eligible, the child must stay a resident of Maine until they enter college.
The Initial Matching Grant is similar to the Harold Alfond College Challenge Grant, but is for babies that are older than one. Any parent who opens an account with a minimum contribution of $200, regardless of income is accepted. The parent or child must be a Maine resident at the time entering college to receive the grant. To retain eligibility, the account holder must make minimum contributions for five years following the award of the grant.
Different degrees have different grants available to them. For instance, Nursing students are in such high demand that there are specific grants only they are eligible for. This is only one degree plan with its own special grant. Many independent organizations offer different grants and scholarships for the most promising of students. if you have a specific field you want to get into check to see if there are any organizations dedicated to that area.
The Maine College of Art supports students while they are in school. The Portland Area School Scholarship provides students who have graduated from select local high schools with a $12,000. Students are awarded this money each year for up to four years or until they complete their Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.
Students aren’t always the only ones in need of funding. Schools and other groups need help, too. Here are a few organizations that give financial aid at the school level.
The Maine Alliance for Arts and Education is an advocate for educational excellence in visual art, music, theater, dance and writing throughout all Maine schools. They have programs set up to financially aid the brightest art students, as well as help out organizations promoting the arts in Maine.
One of the biggest scholarship providers is Maine Arts Commission. They award thousands of dollars each year to artists and art institutions alike. They even offer special grant programs to schools to allow them the best means of helping their students succeed.
When looking at how to fund your college education, your first step should be filling out your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). By filling out this form, you automatically apply for every federal and state grant available. Filling FAFSA out is easy and can be completed online.
The amount you receive is determinant on a few things. It takes into account how much your parents make and your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). This is how much your parents can afford to pay towards your college education. After sending this in, you should get a response in approximately two to three weeks letting you know how much financial aid you will receive.
There’s one more step exclusively for Maine students. Take your Student Aid Report generated from FAFSA and send it, along with your high school transcripts and a recommendation from a counselor or teacher, into the Mitchell Institute. This organization is dedicated to making it easier for Mainers to get into college. Each year they award one scholarship to a graduating senior from every public high school in Maine. Students receive up to $6,000 per scholarship.
Scholarships are by far the best means of financial aid available to students. Every school offers these to the best and brightest students. Many organizations also give out scholarships, such as the Maine Community Foundation (MCF).
MCF is a philanthropic organization dedicated to a full range of nonprofit activities, with a special attention given to education. They are one of the top providers of scholarships to collegiate students throughout the state. Here are just a few scholarships that MCF offers:
- Churchill Family Scholarship- this award goes to a graduating high school senior in Maine planning on attaining a college degree in vocal music education or performance
- Guy P. Gannett Scholarship- this scholarship goes to students majoring in journalism or related field, including all forms of print, broadcast or electronic media
- Patriot Education Scholarship- students that are a graduate of a Maine high school pursuing a degree in business are eligible for this award.
Be sure to check out the full list of the scholarships MCF offers here.
National grants are another great source of financial aid. These are highly competitive, and only the top students are given these awards. If you are fortunate enough to be awarded with a National Grant but still need help paying for college, you should look into federal student loans. The only downside about loans compared to grants and scholarships is that they do require the borrower to payback all that was received plus interest. However, repayment usually doesn’t begin until six months after graduation.
Using a Combination of Grants
For most students, there is a need for more than one grant. Using a combination of federal grants, state grants, and scholarships can help you pay for your full tenure in college.
If you have a full-time job when entering or going back to college you may be able to receive some funding from your employer. Many companies offer scholarships so their employees can get more certification and knowledge to help them in their careers. This last thing you want to do is pay for college out of your own pocket. College is expensive, and many find themselves with too much debt to repay by the end of school.
Understanding Your Options
The best thing any student can do is understand all of the financial options available to them. There are many organizations that are dedicated to doing nothing other than helping students find financial aid. If it comes down to you not having enough to pay for college, no matter how much funding you get, you may need to apply for a tuition waiver. This allows unemployed students to enroll, tuition free, in college. Not every college offers this program, so be sure to ask your respective university if they will allow such a program.
A key part of understanding your options is planning ahead. Preparing for the expenses ahead of time can make you better suited to receiving id and paying off your student debt. Organizations such as NextGen can help you with this. Other programs such as Upromise allows you to start saving early for college. be sure to utilize every opportunity before embarking on getting a college education.
Making College Aid Work in Maine
There are not many individual grants given by the state of Maine. The federal government will be your best source of grants, and your school is bound to offer many scholarship opportunities. Visiting the sites we’ve listed will greatly help you in your quest for financial aid.
With the business world becoming more competitive, it is very important to receive a college education to set you apart from the rest. If you are interested in returning to college after getting started in your career, consider applying for jobs with companies that provide financial opportunities to return to school. As long as you plan and are dedicated enough, you will most likely be able to receive all the financial aid you need for college.