ScholarshipWith the costs of college rising every year, grants are a great way to fund your higher education. While many people are compelled to take out loans, grants or scholarships are money that doesn’t have to be paid back. Grants may be based on all kinds of criteria, including need, merit or even a family history associated with the college.

Before applying for any grant, it is essential to carefully read the instructions. This includes the application date and eligibility requirements. There is no point in wasting time applying for grants that you are not eligible for. For example, some scholarships require a certain high school GPA. In some cases an essay might be required. While it’s a good idea to apply for as many grants as possible, it also makes sense to start with the best and most generous ones. Here are the top 7 college grants of 2014 to help you get started!

1. Horatio Alger National Scholarship Program

Horatio Alger

This scholarship is named after the author of some popular and inspirational novels that were published in the 19th century. In keeping with the themes of these books, this scholarship seeks to reward students who have displayed the ability to overcome adversity of one kind or another. The Horatio Alger Association offers a variety of scholarships, but their National Scholarship Program is the most generous, offering more than 100 scholarships of more than $20,000. To be eligible for this grant, you must be enrolled as a full time high school senior in the U.S. and demonstrate financial need. There are other requirements as well, such as maintaining a GPA of at least 2.0.

2. Create-A-Greeting-Card $10,000 Scholarship Contest

Create-A-Greeting-Card

As the name of this scholarship tells us, you can win $10,000 for college by creating a greeting card for The Gallery Collection. This is a company that produces high end greeting cards for all occasions. This award also provides $1,000 for the winner’s school. The winner will also see his or her design made into a greeting card. This is talent-based grant that is obviously geared to the artistically inclined. Aside from the possibility of winning, the company also holds out the possibility that non-winning entries might be published and awarded. The Gallery Collection also awards a separate $1,000 grant to a member of the U.S. military who submits an entry.

3. Buick Achievers Scholarship Program

Buick Achievers Scholarship Program

This scholarship, sponsored by the famous car manufacturer, is based on both financial need and achievement, both inside and outside the classroom. The award is up to $25,000 and goes to 100 freshmen college students. To be eligible for one of these grants, you are expected to not only have good grades, but also participate enthusiastically in school and community activities. They also look for people who are seeking a career in the automotive industry. Only students who have chosen certain majors are eligible, and this list can be found on the scholarship site. They are mainly majors in the fields of engineering, design and business.

4. Dr. Robert H. Goddard Scholarship

Goddard Scholarship

This is a grant sponsored by The National Space Club for college students who are in their junior or senior year or who are studying at graduate level. It is named after one of America’s leading rocket scientists. The average award is $10,00, and it is renewable. Winners are presented at the annual Goddard Memorial Dinner, where they have a chance to meet many of the nation’s leaders in government, industry and science. This grant is aimed at students in fields such as engineering and the sciences, including biological and and physical sciences, and biomedical sciences. These grants are meant for students who plan careers in the aerospace sciences field. The only other requirement for applying is U.S. citizenship.

5. Talbots Women’s Scholarship Program

Nancy Talbots Scholarship Award

This scholarship for women includes one $30,000 Nancy Talbots Scholarship Award and 30 awards of $5000. It is sponsored by the Talbots Charitable Foundation and is aimed at women who are continuing their college education at a later than average age. This scholarship is administered by the Scholarship Management Services, which manages a wide variety of scholarships. This grant is open to women who are enrolled in a college in the U.S. or Canada who earned their high school diploma or GED in 2004 or earlier. It’s essential to apply for this grant as early as possible, as only the first 5,000 applications are processed.

6. The Gates Millenium Scholars Program

Gates Millennium Scholars Program

The Gates Millennium Scholars Program was established in 1999. It was originally funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This scholarship is available to minority students who have both financial need and who have shown academic and leadership abilities. The goal of this grant is to increase minority representation in fields where such groups are currently underrepresented, such as mathematics, the sciences, engineering and education. The amount awarded to winners varies, but the average award is around $12,000. These grants are open to people of African-American, Latino, American Indian/Native Alaskan and Asian Pacific Islander Americans.

7. Coca Cola Scholars Foundation

Coca Cola Scholars Foundation

The soft drink giant sponsors a scholarship program that awards high school seniors who have demonstrated high achievement. This is part of the foundation’s broader efforts to encourage young people to pursue positions of leadership in their communities. A total of 200 stipends are awarded each year, amounts ranging from $1,000 to $1,500. To be eligible for one of these grants, you must have a minimum GPA of 3.0 at the end of your junior year of high school.

photo by: schwglr