Are you eligible for a government grant? The answer might surprise you! Let’s find out what you’re eligible for and how you can get it.
Are there legitimate government grants?
There are legitimate government grants out there. I’ve got a list I’m going to go over with you in just a moment… but first, I want to make sure you stay safe out there.
Stay safe from government grant scams!
Grant scams are ridiculously common and they often target people who are looking for help. I’m going to tell you all about the legit government grant programs I’ve found, but first it’s important that you understand three critical truths about these programs. This information will protect you and keep you safe from scammers.
Legitimate government grant programs won’t call you unexpectedly.
Legitimate government agencies are not going to call you out of the blue and tell you that you’re eligible for a grant. These agencies are overworked and understaffed, and they don’t have time for that.
Unfortunately, scammers are clever and they’ve figured out how to trick your caller ID into making it look like they’re calling from a legit government agency. They’ll ask you for information or money and instead of getting help, you’ll only end up getting hurt.
In 2021 alone, US residents lost more than $445 million to these scams… so please, please be skeptical whenever you get a call out of the blue about a government grant or free government money. These things exist, but they are hard to find and they aren’t going to be handed to you without any effort on your part.
Legitimate government grants are designated for specific purposes.
Most government grants are set aside for specific purposes. If you are offered a grant with no eligibility requirements and strings attached, it’s probably a scam.
It is exceptionally rare to find a legitimate grant or giveaway that doesn’t have some sort of eligibility or use requirements. Unfortunately, that old adage of “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is” is still true in a lot of cases.
You’ll never have to pay money to receive a legitimate grant.
You’ll never have to pay money to receive a legitimate grant. Often, scammers will ask you to send a MoneyGram or gift cards in order to receive your winnings. Please don’t ever fall for this.
According to the FTC, “no government agency will ever contact you to demand that you pay to get a grant. And no government agency will ever ask you to pay with a gift card, cash reload card, by money transfer, or with cryptocurrency. Not for a grant, and not ever.”
Nevertheless, desperate people do desperate things… and when you really need help, it’s hard to resist the urge to do whatever it takes to get the help that you need. That’s why more than 40,000 customers lost more than $148 million in gift cards to scammers in the first nine months of 2021 alone. That’s an average of almost $4,000 per person.
Don’t ever pay to receive a grant, especially if you’re asked to pay in a weird payment method like iTunes gift cards.
Report suspected government grant scams.
If you think someone is impersonating a government official or offering fake government grants, you can report them by calling the HHS Fraud Hotline at 1-800-447-8477 or by emailing [email protected]
Here are 7 legitimate government grants.
With that in mind, let’s talk about a few legitimate, vetted government grants that may be able to help you.
CBDG Block Grants
The Community Development Block Grants program is designed to support community development, which can include all sorts of things such as utility bill assistance, home repair grants, homeowner assistance, rent relief, and more. It depends on how your local governments decide to spend those funds.
That’s where this gets complicated. The CDBG grants are given by the federal US government to each state. The states then disburse those funds to smaller local governments and organizations that offer help to people. In order to get help from a CDBG government grant, you have to follow the money down to the organizations that actually help low income individuals and families.
And there are a LOT of ways that these grants can help you. Community Development Block grants are used to fund things like home repair grants, housing rehabilitation, homeowner assistance programs, utility assistance programs and more. Basically, these funds are used to sustain and improve communities around the United States.
For some ways that the Community Development Block Grants can help you, check out our list of utility assistance programs or our list of home repair grants. A lot of the programs we report on are funded by these government grants.
ABD Cash Assistant Grants
I hear from a lot of frustrated seniors and disabled adults who feel like they are always left out of government grants because they don’t have young kids. However, there are special cash grant programs for people who are older, disabled, or blind that may be able to provide cash to people who don’t qualify for other programs like TANF.
These programs are known by many names. This program is sometimes called ABD Cash Assistance, or Aid to the Aged Blind and Disabled. In Alaska, it’s called Adult Public Assistance. In Iowa, it’s called State Supplementary Assistance. It just depends on your state.
Regardless of what it is called, this program provides a monthly cash payment to eligible people who meet age and/or disability requirements, as well as income requirements. In some cases, it is a supplementary cash payment given to people who already receive SSI.
In Washington State, the monthly cash grant is up to $197 for an individual or $248 for a couple. It’s not a lot, but it helps.
I was able to confirm that cash benefits are available to aged, blind and/or disabled persons in Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.
TANF & Diversion Grants
TANF and Diversion Grants are two parts of the same program, which is intended to help low income families with children who are experiencing financial difficulties.
TANF stands for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and it’s a cash grant program administered by the states. Eligible families receive an average of $447 per month from this program for up to 60 months, or five years.
The money is sent on an EBT card every single month – the same EBT card that can be used if you’re getting food benefits from the SNAP program. If you’ve heard of EBT cash, that’s usually TANF. TANF is available in every state, but the program can differ significantly between the states.
In some states, like Washington, you may be able to get a Diversion grant instead of TANF. Diversion cash assistance is a short-term alternative to TANF. Instead of getting a small grant per month, you’ll receive a larger grant all at once to help you meet an emergency or crisis need. This can be useful if you’re facing an expensive car repair, move-in costs like a security deposit, or another emergency expense.
In Washington, the grant is limited to $1,250 per year. The amount you’ll receive, the eligibility requirements and the terms vary by state.
According to Urban.org, there are 32 areas with Diversion programs in place: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Washington DC, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
Federal Pell Grants
Federal Pell Grants are available for low income students who are pursuing a higher education. You could receive up to $6,895 per year for up to six years – that’s a total of $41,370 that never has to be paid back – as long as you meet the program requirements.
In some cases, you can receive up to 150% of the Pell Grant, which would be $10,342.50 per year or $62,055 over the six year total. That’s a lot of money.
You can apply for a Pell Grant when you complete a FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, form. You need to be pursuing a college education in order to get a Pell Grant, and the money will be sent directly to your school. The money will be used toward your school costs, and any excess will be sent to you.
If you qualify for other assistance, you may be able to receive more back. We have an article on our website about how one of our contributors, Amelia, actually made money going to college.
LIHEAP stands for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program and this program can pay up to $1,000 toward your utility bills. It’s funded by federal grants, which are passed to states and then other organizations who can pay your utility provider on your behalf.
You’re not going to get cash from LIHEAP, but you can get help with your heating and cooling costs through this program.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
This program provides a monthly grant to help you purchase groceries. The money is deposited on an Electronic Benefits Card, which can only be used to purchase eligible food items at approved retailers and farmer’s markets. If you get these benefits, be sure to check out our list of 1,000 discounts you can get with an EBT card.
This program provides free healthcare for low income people across the United States. The money is paid directly to your medical provider on your behalf. Although you won’t receive cash outright, this is basically a medical grant that is paid on your behalf.
Of course, there are many other assistance programs available that may be able to help you. Low Income Relief is here to help you navigate these complex benefit programs so that you can get the help you need.