Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Daniel Lobo
Higher education and business start-ups can be two of the most costly endeavors an individual faces during their lives. Whether it's fees for university classes, books and lodging or acquiring seed money for materials to start up your business empire, capital is king. The payoffs are usually well worth the financial requirements and many people are willing to take the plunge every year. Luckily there is grant money available for both situations. Pell grants are one of the most common financial lifelines for students, while government and state sponsored programs are often in place to aid small business owners.
Pell grants for starting a business?
There is some confusion around the issue of Pell grants so it should be noted that Pell Grants cannot legally be used for starting a business. Pell grants were created in 1972 to assist low income students with basic education needs, including tuition, materials and housing. Pell grants are available at more than 6000 secondary institutions around the country and are one of the main sources for student financial aid.
How to apply for Pell grants
To apply for the program, students must demonstrate financial need and proof of the low income status of the student or the student's parents if they are younger than 21. Amounts of these grants vary depending on the applicants financial needs to be considered students must fill out the Free Application For Federal Student Aid, available in most university financial aid offices.
Check the Chamber of Commerce
And while business owners are traditionally not eligible for Pell grants, there are other forms of aid that you can apply for. Your local Chamber of Commerce is often a good place to begin. This business organization often provides information on grants, loans and educational opportunities for small businesses. It is also often a good place to go to meet others in your industry and share fundraising and grant tips.
SBA is Your Friend
Another good organization to approach is your area's Small Business Association. This is a government organization dedicated to helping small businesses and new entrepreneurs navigate the often confusing process of setting up their business, including finding money and tailoring applications to meet specific criteria.
Perserverence is Key
The biggest thing to remember when searching for grant money, to further your education or to jump into the world of business, is that patience and diligence are keys to success. Both avenues often call for you to be imaginative and persistent to achieve your goals, but the outcome is almost always worth it.
Damani Wilson is a creative writer, journalist, arts activist and cultural producer. He has been a professional writer for over five years and has written for a number of local and national publications and websites. Wilson received a creative writing/journalism degree from Old Dominion University.