A personal grant is money from public or private sources that a recipient can use for different expenses. Most government grants for individuals come in the form of social welfare benefits. Welfare benefits provide free grant money for bills and personal use, but the specific program may determine exactly how you can spend it.
Alternatively, you can apply for personal grants from private organizations. Many groups have funds to cover costs related to education, small businesses, health care, and more. Most funding opportunities are grants for low income families and other needy groups, but there may be free government money for individuals and innovators.
General Government Grants
You can typically find a list of government grants for individuals and families on Grants.gov, a government website that lets you search and apply for federal funding. The grant database lists funding opportunities to support your ideas to assist the government, such as critical recovery initiatives and innovative research.
Most of the funding on the website is open to companies, institutions, and other organizations. However, you may be able to find personal government grants for individuals funded by federal and state governments and private entities.
If you are an entrepreneur, you can apply for small business grants from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). The SBA is in charge of lending small businesses money to deter pandemic-related financial setbacks. In some cases, these loans are converted to grants.
SBA’s primary grants are the following:
- Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)
- Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR)
Both programs fund startups and small businesses that engage in research and development that match the federal government’s needs. For example, SBIR provides grants to applicants working on wearable technology that assesses the behavior of dementia patients.
The U.S. Department of Education (DOE) Federal Student Aid Office gives qualified students education grants to help pay for the cost of higher education. Student aid grants for low income families can reduce the financial burden of upfront educational expenses, like tuition, housing, supplies, and more.
Some education grants let you use the funds how you want. For instance, you may be able to use grant funds to pay for more affordable housing off-campus instead of living in a college dormitory for more.
Money From Government Programs
You can apply for free grant money for bills and personal use from benefit programs such as the following:
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. SNAP provides money to pay for groceries and qualifying products. Monthly SNAP benefits can be several hundred dollars to cover the price of food for all qualified family members.
- Women, Infants, and Children. WIC is a subsidiary of SNAP that focuses on the nutritional help of pregnant and postpartum women and children younger than five years of age. WIC benefits pay for “food packages” based on your needs, such as infant formula, juice, and cheese.
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. TANF provides monthly cash grants for low income families who need financial help covering living basics.
- Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program. LIHEAP helps pay for energy-related expenses, including electricity, oil, gas, and other fuel bills. Most states have both cooling and heating grants, but some colder states in the north do not offer assistance paying for cooling costs.
Qualification requirements for these programs often vary by state. But you may qualify for all of them if you qualify for one, since many states often have the same guidelines for all government programs.
Several public and private grants for individuals with disabilities can help pay for adaptive equipment, assistive technology, home modification, and more.
You may have less stringent eligibility requirements for government programs if you have a disability. For instance, SNAP only requires you to meet the net income requirement if you have a certified disability. You may also not need to follow any work requirements.
Grants for Women
Some grants are exclusive to specific underrepresented groups. You may apply for personal grants for women if you meet the gender and other criteria. Many female-focused organizations have personal grants for women who want to start a business, go to school, or conduct research to better promote an idea or innovation.
Some common women-focused grants include the following:
- Women’s educational grants
- WomensNet’s Amber Grants
- WomensNet’s Business-Specific Grants
- Small Business Innovation Research
- Small Business Technology Transfer
In addition to the public and private educational grants for all students, you can find additional grants specifically for all women, women of color, female veterans, and more. Some colleges and universities encourage more women to apply with grants.
WomensNet donates hundreds of thousands of dollars to women who qualify for business, marketing, and nonprofit awards. The organization awards multiple $10,000 grants monthly to women-owned businesses. One of the 12 monthly winners also receives an additional $25,000 grant.
SBIR and STTR are not exclusively for women, but the National Investigation Agency (NIA) can improve your efforts if you voluntarily self-certify as a woman-owned business on the application.
Grants for Veterans
Servicemen and women give their time, bodies, and lives in service to the country. The federal government provides money to help service members transition back to civilian life. For instance, veterans with service-related disabilities may receive personal grant money as supplemental income or as grants for specific expenses, like making their home wheelchair accessible.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) oversees multiple programs for former service members. Some VA grant programs include the following:
- VA Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization
- Veteran Housing Grants help veterans with service-connected disabilities buy, build, or alter their homes making mobility and daily tasks easier.
- Veteran Education Grants reduce higher education costs for veterans and their dependents. Some veterans may qualify for tuition-free assistance.
- Veteran Cemetery Grants pay for burial costs like headstones and gravesites. Family members of veterans can apply for financial assistance and a spot in a national cemetery.
- Rural Veterans Programs assist veterans transitioning from military to civilian life in rural areas. The Office of Rural Health has a health care program specifically for female veterans in rural areas.·
- Adaptive Sports Grant funds organizations that assist disabled veterans in improving their physical health through sports and therapeutic arts.