Are You Using the Wrong Methods to Apply for Grants?
As a single mom you have plenty of things on your plate to distract you. This means you probably make some simple mistakes just because you have your mind on so many different things. No one is blaming you for this either. It can be difficult to stay focused when you are running on very little sleep while trying to manage a household, finances, and all of the elements that come into play when you are a single parent trying to play the roles of both parents while also trying to be a person in your own right. However, if you are looking for help in the way of funds through grants, those small mistakes can end up costing you far more than you can afford. Are you making some of the simple mistakes that are listed below?
Timing is Everything
One of the most important details of applying for grants is to do them in a timely manner. That means you need to know when the grants open and close or when you need to have your paper work in so that you can apply for the grants.
Consider PELL grants. These are easy enough to qualify for as long as you are a student in good standing and you attend school at least part time (restrictions may vary depending on the credit hours your classes are worth). In fact, you don’t even have to directly apply for the PELL grant because your financial aid counselor at your school will do it for you. That, among many other things is actually what they are there for. All you really need to do is keep your grades and attendance up and turn in your paperwork on time.
Technically there is no late time to turn in the FAFSA, or Free Application for Student Aid because you can fill out the FAFSA any time during the year. However, when it comes to certain funds, the FAFSA has to be in by March 10th every year.
If you applying for grants through the government website itself, the grant package will tell you the dates you need to have specific documents in by. Pay attention to those dates so that you give yourself plenty of time to allow for any unforeseen events. When it comes to going through non-profits, may of their grants run all year long, but some of them, like LIHEAP are regulated by strict dates and are sometimes limited by a first come first serve basis. LIHEAP specifically starts around October or November, so be sure to get your application in as soon as possible. Other than not having your paper working on time for this specific grants, the only thing that would prevent you from getting it is a lack of documentation, not meeting the income guidelines, or the existence of more people who have more severe needs than you and not enough funds to cover them all.
Are Your Taxes Messing You Up?
If you let them, your taxes can get in the way of your success when it comes to applying for grants. For example, you might wait to fill out your FAFSA until you get your taxes done because you want to put in accurate information. While that is admirable and you should probably have your taxes in before the March deadline anyhow, it isn’t really necessary. You can fill out the FAFSA any time of the year, even before you have your taxes done. You simply estimate the amounts to the best of your ability, fill the entire form out, and submit it as-is. You can go back any time you want to correct any information you need to correct, but you have to submit it and let them process is before the deadline or you may miss out on funding opportunities. You definitely will miss out on state grants if you don’t submit it in time.
Manage the Details
One of the hardest parts of applying for grants is knowing how to properly manage all the details. Basically you need some kind of paper work for each and every detail of your life so that it is properly interpreted. Consider your application for the SNAP program.
You have a roommate who buys their own food. Your roommate only pays one fourth of the rent because she is a single woman and you are a woman with 3 kids, so this is how you both decided to split things up to make it fair. She pays the cable bill and you pay the electric bill, and she buys her food separate from yours. You made the mistake of simply telling your caseworker that someone else was living there without providing any of the details of the financial arrangements. You didn’t bring in the cable bill because you knew they were not going to consider that as part of your outgoing finances since it isn’t in your name and in any case, it is considered a luxury item. As a result, they combined her income with yours and you were denied benefits.
Several mistakes are made here. To begin with, you need written rent receipts to show that she pays rent to you and that your incomes are not combined. You also need a statement from her stating that she eats and buys her food separate from your family. Along with the rent receipts you should probably being in the cable bill and the electric bill in your name, along with a note stating who pays what. Otherwise, they simply are not going to believe she only pays such a small amount for rent. Now that you have given them detailed financial information, they can adjust your application to reflect your true financial status instead of the original inflated one.
Applying at the Wrong Places
Most grants are very specifically targeted to a certain population. That means if you have a ten year old child and you aren’t pregnant, you ware wasting your time applying for Women Infants and Children (WIC) vouchers because you don’t qualify for them. Instead, apply for SNAP, which has no age limit. Be sure to go over the details of the grants you are applying for because they are non-negotiable, so that if you find a grant on Grants.gov and it says you have to be a non-profit organization to qualify, you don’t try and apply anyhow, but you might seek out a non-profit you want to work with to obtain the grant for a specific purpose.