How to Apply for Government Grants for Personal Use

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Government grants offer millions of dollars every year to help with specified projects. Those projects are not limited to only businesses, organizations or non-profits, as individuals can apply for grants, too. The government will not hand over money to pay bills, buy dog food or save your house from foreclosure, but you may be able to secure some funds for a purpose you'd like to fulfill.

Decide what purpose you want to fulfill. You cannot apply for a grant without having a purpose for the grant to fund. Examples could be setting up an art camp for kids, helping to preserve the llama population or setting time aside to write a poetry collection.

Find grant options for individuals. Visit the government grant website (see Resources). Find available grants by clicking on "Find Grant Opportunities" and choosing "Advanced Search." Under the "Search by Eligibility" option, pick "individual."

Review your options. You may need to fine tune your purpose to go for what's available unless you are willing to wait for later possibilities. For instance, the site may list grants for starting an art after school program rather than your desired camp, or preserving monkeys instead of llamas. Likewise, you may find an opportunity to write a short prose collection rather than poetry.

Register on the site. Once you decide you want to apply for something, register on the site. You cannot apply unless you first register. Choose the "Get Registered" option on the menu along the left side of the page. Register as an individual, following the instructions that will come up on the screen.

Download your application. Choose "download an application," filling in the grant opportunity number that will be listed in the description of the grant you desire. You must have Adobe Reader 9 or the materials will not download properly. If you do not have Adobe Reader 9, instructions on the site will guide you through downloading it.

Complete and submit your application. Once your application has downloaded properly, start filling in the required information. Some applications will require attachments, all of which must be saved as PDF files only. If you cannot complete your application in one sitting, you can choose the "save" option at the top of the form which will save the application on your computer.

Submit your application. Once your application is complete, including any attachments, hit the "save" option at the top. Then choose the option that lets you check for errors, also along the top of the application. Once it's cleared, hit "save and submit." You will again be required to log on. Do so and follow the final instructions that will appear on your screen.


  • This task is challenging not necessarily because it's rocket science, but because the Web site has the tendency to go buggy.

  • If the grant website does go buggy, simply save what you were working on and close down the site. Go back to the site in an hour or so to see if it's working again. You can email if the site continues to be bothersome or not let you log on.


  • You can track any previously submitted application by visiting the grant Web site and logging on. Options will include tracking what you've submitted.

  • The site recommends turning in your application at least 10 days before the deadline in case any changes need to be made.

  • If you need more information on a grant's description, check out the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (see Resources).

  • Grants are exclusively submitted online these days. If you don't have a computer at home, check your community's libraries and job help places that may let you use one at no charge.