One of the toughest things about college isn’t studying for exams or having to participate in group projects; the toughest thing is being able to afford to go to school. If you want to have the best chance at safely affording your higher education, you need to file your FAFSA.

The Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is what qualifies you for government financial assistance for college. Without it, you wouldn’t have a chance of receiving federal grants and loans. While loans can be helpful, grants are even better. With grants, you don’t have to pay back what you’ve received, so it’s like free money to use to go to school.

There are many grants you could qualify for, whether you’re 18 years old or 75 years old, but there are three very important grants to know, especially when you’re filing your FAFSA and applying for college for the very first time.

Federal Pell Grant

One of the most common grants undergraduate students receive is the Federal Pell Grant. Low-income students are given a specific amount of money based upon a formula that includes your expected family contribution (EFC), the cost of attending school, your status (full-time or part-time) and if you’ll be attending school for a full academic year or less.

For the 2021-2022 school year, the maximum you can receive per school year from a Federal Pell Grant is $6,495. Whatever amount you’re granted will be divided and given to you once per term (semester, trimester, quarter, etc.).

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant

The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) is designed to provide additional financial aid on top of a Pell Grant to the lowest-income undergraduate students. The term “additional financial aid” is subjective to the amount of aid you’re already receiving and the available funds at your school, but it can range from $100 to $4,000.

Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant

For the aspiring teachers out there, the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant can help you afford your education. You can qualify if you’re a full-time student in a participating college and you score above the 75th percentile on at least one portion of college admissions tests or keep a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.25.

You can receive up to $4,000 in grants, but you must agree to teach extremely important subjects in a low-income, teacher-scarce area for a minimum of four years. Common subjects which are considered high in importance are math, reading, science and bilingual education, though there are many more critical subjects throughout the United States that need to be taught as well.

If you complete the minimum of four years at your designated school, there’s no need to pay the money back. The only way you would ever have to pay this grant back is if you dropped out or failed to complete the teaching term. Your grant would then turn into a direct unsubsidized loan.

Any little bit of extra money helps when you’re paying for college, which is why it’s important to file your FAFSA for the 2019-2020 school year as soon as you can. (Hint:  you’ll need your 2017 tax information to successfully fill out the form.) The national deadline to file is June 30, 2020, but each state has a different deadline. Be sure to check with your college and your state to know the exact date.

Have you filed your FAFSA yet? Do so now so you can cash in on these helpful grants!