A grant differs from a loan in that it is essentially a gift, usually based on financial need, and need not be repaid. There is a wide variety of grants or awards that can help you pay for cooking school, based on such things as your state of residency, ethnic background, religious affiliation, parents’ employer, etc.
Grants can be divided into two main categories: public (government-sponsored) or private. Public grants can come from the federal, state, county, and local levels. Private grants may draw funds from charities, trusts, endowments, or clubs. They may also be funded directly by corporations. Cooking school students qualify for many of the same grants that students in other programs may apply for.
The federal government’s Pell Grant is one of the most widely available need-based sources of educational funding. Pell grants vary in size from year to year, depending on the program’s allocation in the federal budget. The formula for determining eligibility will vary as well, so check with your cooking school’s financial aid officer or the US Department of Education’s website to see if you qualify. Pell Grants can range from as little as $500 to as much as $5,000, give or take a few hundred dollars. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid FAFSA serves as the application for Pell Grants. Learn more here
In addition to the Pell Grant, cooking school students with exceptional financial needs may qualify for supplemental grant money under the federal supplemental educational opportunity grant (FSEOG). If you meet the requirements for this grant, you may qualify for up to $800 a year.
Many state grants use the same funding formula as the Pell Grant. Once you have determined how much you qualify for under the federal program, it will be easy to see how much you may receive from state sources. Generally, you will need to be a legal resident of the state in which you are attending school for at least a year to qualify for state grants.
Most cooking schools also have their own grant programs that are designed to help good students with limited financial resources complete their educations. You will generally need to maintain a good grade point average to qualify for one of these grants, in addition to demonstrating financial need. For instance, the Alumni Legacy Scholarship Grant at Kendall College offers $1,000 to students who maintain a 2.75 GPA and who were referred to the college by a graduate.
If you are still in high school, ask a guidance counselor to help you search for grants and awards that may help you pay for cooking school. If not, search the online databases and websites that are widely available to assist you.