A grant is a form of financial aid that you don't need to repay. Different types of grants are available to students based on their financial situations, academic history and personal characteristics. As a married student, you may qualify for need-based grants, as well as grants for nontraditional students.
If you want financial aid for the school year, you need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) before the term begins. Universities use this form to determine how much aid you need for the year based on your income and estimated college expenses. As a married student, you won't need to include your parents' income on this form, which may help you qualify for more grant money. However, you must include your income and any income your spouse earns.
If your FAFSA shows a financial need, you may qualify for a Federal Pell Grant. These grants are available to students enrolled in undergraduate programs who don't already have a bachelor's degree. You may also get a Pell Grant if you have a bachelor's degree and are enrolled in a teacher certification program. If you have more financial need than most other students, you may receive a Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant in addition to a Pell Grant. Finally, if you're enrolled in a teacher education program and plan to teach in a low-income area, you may receive a Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant.
Some universities offer special grants or scholarships to married students. For example, Idaho State University offers the Carl K. Davis Scholarship to married students who are majoring in pre-law. Some non-profit organizations, such as the American Association of University Women (AAUW). also offer financial aid to local nontraditional students, such as those who are married and entering or re-entering college after some time off from education.
Married students who can't qualify for enough grants and scholarships to cover their educational costs may be able to make up the difference through student loans. Subsidized loans, unsubsidized loans and Perkins loans are available to married students in undergraduate programs. Married students in graduate programs can also apply for Federal PLUS loans. To learn more about special grants available to married students at your university, contact the school's financial aid department directly.
Amanda McMullen is a freelancer who has been writing professionally since 2010. She holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics and statistics and a second bachelor's degree in integrated mathematics education.