What types of grants are available for college?
Financial aid for college can consist of loans, grants, scholarships, and work study. Grants and scholarships are preferable because they don't have to be repaid. There are three sources for grant aid: colleges, the federal government, and state higher-education agencies. College grants may be either need-based or merit-based, and they can range from a few thousand dollars up to the full cost of education. Federal and state grants are based on financial need and are much lower.
In order to be considered for any type of need-based college grants, you'll need to file the federal government's financial aid application, the FAFSA. In addition, private colleges typically require the PROFILE form, or their own individual aid form, along with the FAFSA. Even if you don't think your child will qualify for need-based grants, you should consider filing these forms anyway because some colleges may require them before your child be considered for merit grants. Keep in mind that families must reapply for financial aid every year.