Do people actually receive money through government grants? They definitely do! On this page you can see actual award amounts provided in 2009. See Available Government Grant Money below for these billion-dollar award amounts and sample grants!
What is a federal grant? A federal grant is an award of financial assistance which has been created and authorized by a U.S. law, given by a federal agency to a recipient, to carry out a speicifc public purpose.
Sometimes special situations afford new areas of, or focus on, federal grants. For example the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, or Recovery Act, made $787 billion available in a variety of areas, including Grants.
Grant-making agencies are currently posting Recovery Act specific grant opportunities on Grants.gov. And though many opportunities expired in 2010 there are still billions of dollars waiting to be awarded. For a useful summary, see Top Ten Things You Should Know About Grants. If you are looking for Scholarships, see Where to Find Scholarships.
You will also find useful information about finding grants in our article called U.S. Government Grant Department.
Following are actual numbers for 2013 for total grant funds awarded by the top ten (in terms of award dollars) individual awarding agencies. This information comes from usaspending.gov, an official web site of the U.S. government.
- Department of Health and Human Services - $336.20 billion
- Department of Transportation - $55.3 billion
- Department of Agriculture - $31.3 billion
- Department of Education - $19.6 billion
- Department of Housing and Urban Development - $9.9 billion
- Department of Labor - $9.1 billion
- Agency for International Development - 7.9 billion
- Department of Homeland Security - $6.9 billion
- National Science Foundation - $6.20 billion
- Environmental Protection Agency - $3.90 billion
Current Grants: A Sample
An interesting grant currently available (application deadline: August 2013, pre-appication submissions June 2013) points out the need to conduct a broad search. You can of course go to the websites of any of the big agencies noted above – but that may limit your findings. Currently the Department of the Army is seeking applicants for a grant for ovarian cancer research to the tune of $4.3 million. They require no experience in this area but are specifically looking for a visionary for “creative, high-impact research” to end ovarian cancer. Unlike most agency grants this one is avilable to individuals, and qualified professionals from other disciplines are welcome to apply.
Ending ovarian cancer is certainly a great goal, but potential applicants might not look first to the Army or Department of Defense for available grants. So if you are seeking a grant it's important to know where and how to look — which you can discover more about in Find Grants.
As a result of the federal stimulus program (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009), agencies have new funds and incentive to make awards.
Federal grants are typically multi-year awards and the monies awarded depend on the specific programs and legislation generating the request. Small awards may be in the tens of thousands while larger ones can be many millions of dollars.
It is important to understand that federal grants are not made for “unrestricted purposes” or to support the existing programs or activities of an organization. They are instead awarded for very specific purposes in response to specific federal legislation. Therefore if you apply for a federal grant you will most likely be developing a new plan that is not a routine part of your organization’s current everyday activities.
Agencies at the cabinet level provide funds through their sub-agencies. Federal Aid is not the same as Federal Grants. For examples of Federal Aid Programs, click Federal Assistance in the United States. For a trustworthy source of information on domestic assistance in the United States, including a list of Federal Assistance Programs, see The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance.
Grant announcements typically include details about estimated funding including the number of awards to be made if there are more than one, the size of the awards, and the length of time covered by the awards. They also include very specific information about eligibility, which is critical to understand before you consider applying.
See Also: Pell Grants