September 17, 2014

Government Grants: Myths, Types & Available Funds

The amazing fact about government grants is that there are actually more than 1,000 different federal grants which can be applied for in 26 different categories overseen by a specific federal agency.

Unfortunately, there is an abundance of misinformation circulating in regards to how grants can be applied for and exactly who qualifies for a free grant – making it a good place to begin our research.

It is important to understand that most grants are funded for the common good and those ads that tell you that grants are freely available to just anyone who applies are not telling you the entire truth.

Yes, government grants are available, and the government does set aside money to fund these grants, but before you apply it is important to understand what grants are all about and the real purpose behind them.

Grant Program Misconceptions

One of the first things you should know about government grants is that they are offered to groups or individuals who meet specific criterion. You will often see those advertisements that say President Obama is going to buy you a home with a government grant. That is not the purpose of the federal grant program and that is one of the first misconceptions which people have.

The government does not offer free money as part of the grant program for you to buy a home. What the government will do is provide block grants and other types which will help community projects. Those community projects may be housing projects which would enable low income families to find affordable housing.

In other words, most government grants of this type are offered to non-profit organizations. Even so, federal money is available for individuals or businesses if they fall within the scope of what that federal or state agency has to offer.

Popular Types of Government Grants

When it comes to government grants there are actually two main classifications. There are direct federal grants which are offered directly to the person or organization that applied for the grant and then there are pass-through grants that are awarded to states and the individual or group needs to apply through the state or the agency the state awarded the grant money to.

types of government grants

The types of available funding will vary depending on the organization and your personal situation.

Perhaps the most popular types of federal grants are in the area of education, and of those Pell Grants are the most popular.

After educational grants the most well-known and highly popular grants are:

  • Disaster Relief and Prevention
  • Energy
  • Environmental Quality
  • Housing
  • Natural Resources
  • Regional Development
  • Agriculture
  • Community Development

Those are just a few of the different types of federal government grants but they are among the most popular. For example, there are grants for the humanities, social services, transportation and several other types, but they are not as widely understood or publicized.

How to Find Available Federal Grants

As mentioned, the first thing you need to determine is which agency is most likely to have the type of federal grant you are looking for. Is the grant going to be direct from the federal government or is it a pass-through grant? This may be the most difficult information to obtain.

The best place to find information on government grants is on one of the websites set up with an online search. Sometimes information is listed by broad federal category and other times you can look under the state or community in which you live.

Most often there are a number of search options available to you. If you aren’t exactly sure how to classify the grant you are searching for try the basic search option. Most reputable federal grant websites will offer this choice. After that you can browse by agency, category or even with an advanced search option.

If you know which agency or sub-agency offers the grant you can use the advanced search option. The more detailed your search a criterion is, the more likely you will be to find a government grant if one is available.

How to Apply for Federal Grants

After spending some time searching through the various options and you have found the grant you would like to apply for, these sites will have an “Apply” button or an “Application” button which you can click on. This will take you to an online application form which will work in a few different ways.

signed government grants application

Application packages will vary, and can be actual paperwork, or an electronic application process.

Sometimes you can complete the application process online while other times you may be sent an application package which needs to be manually completed and sent back signed and dated.

Most of the time you can download an application package, which is a little quicker than having a packet mailed to you. Also, many such sites will also offer you the opportunity to receive automatic notifications whenever new government grants are available.

For instance, if you are looking for educational grants or agricultural grants, you will receive an email any time new money is legislated in that particular category.

In other words, as soon as funds are available in that type of grant you will be immediately notified by email. Some of these services are free and some are subscription based.

The best advice you can be given when trying to determine whether or not there is a federal grant available that meets your needs is to avoid those flashy online advertisements or television infomercials. There are a number of reputable websites dedicated to helping applicants find available funding if there is money available for that particular need.

It may take a bit of research, but if money is available you can find it with a bit of patience and persistence. You can also find information about what types of federal grants are available on the government grants portal, but you will most likely not be able to submit an application there.

Keep in mind that most government grants are actually issued by non-profit or charitable organizations, and these are the groups you will need to be put in touch with.

For this reason, take the information you find on the government’s website for the type of grant you are looking for and then find a website that can put you in touch with the organization that distributes the funding.

Federal government grants are available, and can offer the financial assistance you need – it is just a matter of finding the agency authorized to fund the grant, fitting the criteria, and submitting the application within a certain time-frame.