While searching the internet for reliable information about government grants, no doubt you will encounter a ton of websites claiming that billions of free dollars are available to the general public. They suggest this government money is practically right at your fingertips and that it can be used for almost anything like paying your credit card bills. They seem to have some mighty incredible secrets to get you loads of free money. But what they typically offer is to sign you up for paid access to their website or sell you an online e-book. What they are selling is mainly hype. The truth is that there is really no free government grant that is going to pay off your credit cards.
When something sounds too good to be true, it most likely is. The Federal Trade Commission suggests that you never release your bank account information to any company you are unfamiliar with and that you should never pay anyone to apply for a free government grant on your behalf. I recently read online one woman’s account of how she signed up to receive a free CD from one of these services but to actually get it she only had to pay $1.99 for shipping and handling. After giving the company her information, she was actually charged a $69.99 monthly fee for website access. Something that was evidently in the fine print of the offer but not spelled out properly was that by signing up for the free CD she was actually signing up for a free 7 day trial. And by not cancelling the service during that trail, she was stuck with the charge with little recourse other than to complain to the better business bureau.
The government does in fact issue billions of dollars a year in grants but very little of it goes to individuals. The vast majority of government grants are block or formula grants, which is how the federal government distributes money to states, institutions and non-profits that carry out government initiatives and programs. For individuals, the government offers many federal benefits and entitlement programs, but money is rarely offered in the form of a grant. You do not need a mysterious sounding service to apply for any of them. In fact, the federal government maintains a few websites where there is plenty of information on what it does and doesn’t do. Most federal grant money does actually filter down to the local level to help people in need. And in most cases, to receive help you simply apply locally.
What most people who are searching for government grants are actually looking for anyway are government benefits programs. And the government does actually fund a lot of programs that offer the general public some form of assistance. If you lost your job and are looking for unemployment compensation or you are interested in finding out if you are eligible to receive food stamps, everything you need can be found at this website. It takes about 10 or 20 minutes to use the provided benefit finder, where you can quickly establish what government benefits you might be eligible to receive.
Filling out information through this process is confidential and anonymous. And you can even fill out information to help someone else like an elderly parent. The questionnaire will not ask for your name, address or social security number. But you will need to provide basic information about your family, education, career, income and any benefits you already receive. Watch this 8 minute tutorial before starting to familiarize yourself with how the Benefit Finder works.
If you are looking for a specific program, you can browse benefits by category or federal agency to find it. If you don’t necessarily know what you are looking for, I suggest using the browse by state option. By clicking on your state on the map, you will find listings for all benefits offered in your area. Each listing quickly explains what the program does, who is eligible to receive help and where and how to apply.
A quick look at my state turned up information on plenty of programs I was familiar with like unemployment insurance and nutritional support but it also showed a few surprising things too. I found a program that will pay for weatherization expenses to make your house more energy-efficient. Another program will pay for emergency heating and cooling costs. I even found a program that helps low-income parents with job preparation and support services designed to make families become economically independent.
For people who are actually searching for government grants, the Department of Health and Human Services maintains this website with listings of all open grant opportunities being offered across all government agencies. Again, it is highly unlikely that an individual would be eligible to receive any of these grants. This website is more for people employed at state and local governments and at non-profit organizations to locate relevant grant information. The site provides a listing on each federal grant, when and where to apply for it and a brief description of what each grant can be used to fund. It provides a search grants tool to find grants by keyword and allows you to browse grants by eligibility, category or agency offering the grant.