National SMART Grant
The National SMART Grant is a grant available to U.S. students who have already completed at least half of their undergraduate studies. The full name of the grant is the ‘National Science & Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant’. The aim of the grant is to promote student talent in the sciences as well as in mathematics, so that recipients will be more likely to continue to further their higher education. Students are considered for the grant automatically once they have successfully completed the necessary forms, which assess financial need. These are commonly referred to as FAFSA forms, or more precisely, Free Application for Federal Student Aid forms.
Who Is Eligible?
Students completing their post-secondary education in areas of mathematics and the hard sciences are considered eligible for this particular grant. All students however, are automatically eligible for other grants, such as the Federal Pell award. Like most awards provided by U.S. post-secondary institutions, this award is issued according to financial need. This is why it is first necessary to complete the above-mentioned FAFSA forms. Furthermore, it is necessary to keep them updated and to resubmit current information, annually. This allows your college or university to screen you automatically for grant and scholarship eligibility. If you are a student who has maintained a high average in fields such as chemistry or physics you will be considered for this award at the end of your second and third year. Your school’s financial department will contact you if selected. Since most post-secondary institutions have converted to digital mediums, you will most likely be receiving your grant and scholarship information via e-mail.
How To Apply
One of the advantages of the National SMART Grant (as well as the Federal Pell grant) is that your university or college will consider your eligibility themselves and seek you out to inform you if you have been awarded the grant. You need not apply specifically for this grant, as your eligibility will be evaluated automatically by your post-secondary institution. However, as specified above, a FAFSA form must be submitted to your school at the beginning of each year, for this to occur. You can fill out the form online, on the U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid website. If you did not receive information regarding this grant and would like to see your eligibility in the coming term, you can speak to an academic or financial councilor at your school. The earliest time to contact someone regarding this grant would be during the second year of your undergraduate studies.
Students who are eligible due to financial need; and who are in the upper years of their undergraduate program, can be awarded up to four-thousand dollars, each year that the award is received. This grant can be awarded in combination with others, such as the Federal Pell grant. Some restrictions apply on the amount awarded if multiple awards are being received. This is because the grant is primarily aimed at people with significant financial need. Even if you do not receive the full amount, it will significantly help you reduce your financial restrictions during your studies. You will remain eligible for other grants funded externally, or from within your institution. Remember to research your opportunities for scholarships and grants ahead of time, in order to avoid missing deadlines. There are other programs worth looking into if you are wondering how to finance you studies. These include work-study programs such as co-op programs, as well as bursaries and external grants from non-profit organizations.