What are federal grants and how do you apply for one? Follow the steps below to find out if you are eligible for a federal grant and how to apply.
There are more than 2,000 financial assistance programs available from the federal government. A number of these programs provide funding to state governments, educational and research institutions, hospitals, non-profit organizations, and the public for a wide range of services, such as jobs, education and training, health care and nutrition, housing, transportation, and scientific research. The grants are not available for personal debt relief, paying rent, or other similar needs.
Here is what to do if you are interested in obtaining a federal grant:
(1) First time applying for a grant
- Go to www.cfda.gov (Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance) for a broad overview of grants for which you might be eligible. Grant descriptions include the objective of the grant, its uses and restrictions, eligibility requirements, and other related information. Grants funded by or related to the Recovery Act will have the Recovery logo ; you can also search by "Recovery." Download or print-out information about grant programs, but you cannot apply here.
(2) Look up and identify specific opportunities.
- Experienced applicants, who have a clearer idea of what type of grant they need, may prefer to go directly to www.grants.gov, which provides specific details and allows you to apply online.
- Start by clicking on “Find Grant Opportunities” on the left-hand tab of the home page.
(3) Prepare to apply.
- There is no application fee, but obtaining a DUNs number and registering at CCR may take up to a week or more. If you want to receive a grant by a particular time, plan accordingly. Also, do not wait until the last minute to try and submit your award electronically.
- Obtain a DUNS number (from Dun & Bradstreet, D&B).
- Federal policy requires anyone doing business with the federal government to have a DUNS number. Go to www.dnb.com and click “D&B DUNS Number” in the upper-right tab. On the next page, click “Next” tab in the “For U.S. Government Contractors, Vendors, and Grant Recipients” box on the right side of the page. Follow the instructions. There is no charge for the DUNS number.
- Register with CCR.gov (Central Contractor Registration).
- Federal policy also requires anyone doing business with the federal government, including those seeking grants, be registered in the CCR. Go to www.ccr.gov, click “Go Directly to Central Contractor Registration” on the left-hand tab. Follow the instructions.
- Documents you need if you are applying for a federal grant for the first time:
- Statement of intent. For instance, an application for an undergraduate scholarship grant should include a description of your background and goal(s). A business or organization should include a mission statement explaining what the business/organization does and how the grant would be appropriate.
- References . These should not be family or friends, but professionals able to speak to your qualifications for the grant.
- List of accomplishments. You do not need an entire resume or business history, just those accomplishments relevant to grant.
- When you have all your documents in order, a DUNS number and are registered at CCR, you can now register at Grants.gov to submit a grant application electronically. Click “Get Registered” on the left-hand tab and follow all instructions. To apply, click “Apply for Grants” on the left-hand tab or follow directions at the end of registration.