Financial Aid – The Federal SMART Grant

The Federal Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent (SMART) Grant is offered by the US Department of Education to students that are eligible for the Pell Grant and are also enrolled in either the third or fourth year of a bachelor’s degree program. The student, in addition, must also be enrolled on a degree program with a major in science, mathematics, technology, engineering, a foreign language that is deemed essential to the needs of national security or a liberal arts curriculum that qualifies as authorised by the Secretary of State for Education.

Students that are deemed eligible for a SMART award receive $ 4,000 a year from the program, and, importantly for those students from poorer backgrounds, the award of a SMART grant does not count against any other grants-whether federal or state, to which the student may be eligible or in receipt of. The SMART program itself was initiated specifically in order to persuade and motivate more students to take degree programs that were deemed to be in high demand.

In order to apply for a SMART award the student’s first task is to fill in and submit their FAFSA. From the information provided by the student on this form, the colleges will identify those students most likely to qualify for an award based on a number of contributing factors, such as their eligibility for a Pell Grant award, their chosen program of study and their grade point average. The SMART grant itself does not require the student to make a separate application. The grant funds themselves are sent directly to the student’s college by the Department of Education. The college will then allocate the funds directly to the students in question.

With regards to some of the specific eligibility requirements to qualify for a SMART award a student must be eligible to receive Pell funds, and should be enrolled in their third or fourth academic year of a four-year degree course. They should also ensure that they maintain a 3.0 grade point average throughout their college career, and should be following a degree course as mentioned previously. Finally the student should, of course, be a US citizen. Alternatively (or in addition, as the case may be) students may wish to see what other federal grants are available to them in order to maximize their possible education benefits before school even starts.

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