The government provides upwards of $400 billion dollars annually in assistance to citizens of the United States! Understanding Federal Assistance can help you get what you need. First, it takes many forms and has other names like aid, benefits, and funds. The government focuses on areas such as education, health, safety, welfare, and works which include schools,hospitals, roads, and parks.
Funding is administered by agencies like the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The Department of Education is a huge provider of education grants.
Hundreds of individual programs are made available through government agencies that are responsible for local administration. Like assistance, “programs” is a broad term for many activities and services of the federal government. In addition to those below see our article Free Tax Help for assistance with tax returns and payments.
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Many programs will have multiple names in popularity and formality. This practice is not uncommon but can be confusing. Assistance is a broad term and you may already benefit from government programs.
Examples of Federal Assistance programs
- Federal Grants and awards
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
- Nutrition Assistance for Puerto Rico
- Local Law Enforcement Block Grant
- Head Start
- Food Stamp Program
- Federal Pell Grants
- Conservation Reserve Program
- Community Development Block Grants
- Child and Adult Care Food Program
- Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health Services Block Grant
- Aid to Families with Dependent Children
You can find information about these and other assistance programs in Low Income Help.
Don't be surprised if your funding is only partially what you had hoped for when applying for a grant or award. After applying directly to the administering federal agency, an amount of assistance is determined. Because many may apply for the same assistance, this division is a necessity.
Some awards have a “Period of Availability of Federal Funds” which is a duration during which the recipient may use the assistance. Generally, grants have a term of one year and you must use the assistance within that time period. As federal assistance is tied to the federal government's budget process, money may be re-apportioned to other uses after the promised period.
Remember when receiving assistance from the government that the U.S. is committed to transparency and honesty. Recipients agree to comply with laws, regulations, and stipulations of the money they are given. As this money is essentially derived from taxes, know that the money you are given is a shared burden. Failure to comply may lead to suspension, exclusion, penalties, fines, and sanctions. Details are composed in the Code fo Federal Regulations, made available by the Office of Management and Budget Circular letters.