Outside of family, the government is the best place to turn if you need money now that you don’t have to pay back.
However, the federal government says they do not award individuals grants or “free money” for bills or personal use.
So, how could both of these statements be true?
First, federal grants go to state government agencies that distribute the free money as benefits for low-income families. Second, several federal departments provide free money directly to individuals via programs with different names you must decode.
Learn how to qualify and where to apply by attacking the problem from three distinct angles.
List of Government Grants for Individuals
Our first angle of attack is to compile a list of government grants for individuals where a federal agency provides free money directly to people, not institutions, but under a different name.
- List of Government Grants for Individuals
- Free Grant Money for Bills & Personal Use
- How to Get Money You Never Pay Back
Free Loan Grants
Free loans you do not have to pay back appear first on our list of government grants for individuals with an alternate name. In this instance, the Federal Housing Agency (FHA) helps first-time home buyers.
Down payment assistance programs are free second mortgage loans featuring payments that are forgiven, deferred, or subsidized until the owner sells the property.
Financial hardship programs are next on our list of government grants for individuals using alternative labels. In this example, the Office of Family Assistance (OFA) helps low-income families with children achieve economic self-sufficiency.
Apply for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families at a state or tribal agency as listed on the OFA website. Hardship benefits may include the following.
- Monthly cash payments
- Childcare support
- Job training services
Free Money Grants
Refundable tax credits are next on our list of government grants for individuals under another name. In this case, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) sends free money directly to people who qualify and claim it when filing their annual returns.
A refundable credit boosts your refund, even if you pay no income taxes!
Free Money For Low-Income
The refundable Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a free money grant for low-income individuals under a different name. The IRS might send you over $6,000, even if you pay no income taxes.
Free Money for Parents
The refundable Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) is a free money grant for parents under an alternative label. The IRS might send you a check for $1,400 or more even if you pay no income taxes.
Free Money for Students
The partially refundable American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC) is a free money grant for college students under a different name. The IRS might send you a check for $1,000 even if you pay no income taxes.
$7,000 Pell Grants
If they meet several qualifiers, the federal government might provide slightly more or less than $7,000 in grants for low-income students to attend college or trade school.
Federal Pell grants are awarded only to undergraduate students with exceptional financial needs without a bachelor’s, graduate, or professional degree.
The maximum amount you can get is just above $7,000, but it could be less depending on several factors.
- Your Expected Family Contribution
- The cost of attendance as determined by your school
- Your status as a full-time or part-time student
- Your plans to attend for a full academic year or less
Free Grant Money for Bills & Personal Use
The second angle of attack is to explore free grant money for bills and personal use. In these cases, we trace the funding from federal departments to the state agencies or other organizations receiving the awards.
Apply for benefits at each of the grant recipients.
Low-income families can utilize free grant money to pay apartment rental bills, giving them extra room in their budget for other personal uses. In this instance, the Department of Housing & Development (HUD) sends funds to state agencies.
State housing agencies administer the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program, subsidizing monthly rental charges for qualifying families.
Low-income families can tap into free grant money to pay grocery bills, giving them the extra financial flexibility to cover other personal expenses. The Federal Department of Agriculture sends funds to state agencies in this case.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP or Food Stamps) provides nutrition benefits to augment the food budget of needy families to purchase healthy fare at grocery stores.
Many families can employ free grant money to pay energy bills (gas and electric), leaving them extra cash for other personal uses. In this example, the Federal Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) sends money to state agencies.
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) helps keep families safe and healthy through initiatives that assist families with energy costs.
Others can utilize free grant money to help pay phone and internet bills, making room in their budget for other personal needs. In this instance, the Federal Communications Commission sends funding to private companies.
The Lifeline and Affordable Connectivity Programs help low-income households pay for internet and connected devices like phones.
Almost everyone can get free grant money to help pay medical bills, leaving them extra cash for other personal uses. In this example, two federal departments send funding to other organizations.
- The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services sends grants to each state supporting health insurance benefits for low-income families.
- The Internal Revenue Service administers premium subsidies, making health insurance more affordable for moderate-income households.
People with outdated equipment can get free grant money to help pay home repair bills, giving them the extra financial flexibility to cover other personal expenses. In this case, the federal Department of Energy funds the states.
The Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) reduces energy costs for low-income households by increasing the energy efficiency of their homes while ensuring their health and safety.
Apply for WAP benefits through your state agency. A local contractor will conduct a home energy audit as the first step. To prioritize projects, the study may recommend upgrades using a savings-to-investment ratio (SIR).
- Addition of insulation and weather stripping
- Upgrade inefficient heating and cooling units
- Replace outdated household appliances
- Drafty window and door upgrades
- Leaky roof repair and replacement
- Installation of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
Low-income families can utilize free grant money to pay water and sewer bills, leaving them more cash to tend to other personal needs. In this instance, a federal department (HHS) sends funding to state agencies.
LIHWAP (Low Income Household Water Assistance Program) could provide up to $5,000 towards past-due water and sewer bills.
How to Get Money You Never Pay Back
The third angle of attack addresses how to get free government money you never pay back. You are lucky if you already meet the qualifying criteria around the Federal Poverty Level, age, and disability.
However, those who need money right away should learn the rules about expected versus past income and household size.
Need Money Now
Living below a specified percentage of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) is crucial if you need money now that you don’t have to pay back. Most benefit programs use this metric to determine eligibility, and FPL has two dimensions, which change yearly.
Federal Poverty Level
|Each Additional Person
A change in circumstances may have caused your financial crisis. Therefore, looking forward while forgetting the past helps you qualify for immediate assistance.
Having a low projected Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) is critical if you need money today that you don’t have to repay. The government calculates the percentage of PFL based on what you expect to earn in the future, not what you made in the past.
Review the government MAGI estimating requirements to avoid unnecessary delays or denials caused by forecasting income streams you should not include, such as child support, Supplemental Security Income, some alimony payments, and more.
Claiming additional dependents is helpful if you need money today that you don’t have to repay. The government calculates the PFL based on the household size based on what you plan to declare on your next tax return, not what you filed last year.
Review the government household estimating requirements to avoid unnecessary delays or denials caused by omitting eligible family members such as adult children with disabilities, full-time students, and more.
Need Money Later
Being a member of a recognized vulnerable people group helps you get free money from the government without paying it back. Several Federal benefit programs have preferential criteria for senior citizens and disabled individuals.
However, there is little for you to do today as these qualifiers rely on immutable characteristics.
Celebrate A Birthday
Growing older is a passive way to get free money from the government without paying it back. You wait for the passage of time.
As we reach specific milestone birthdays, free government money for senior citizens kicks in incrementally. In other words, the benefits improve as we age.
- Over 55: 401K Distributions, Estate Recovery, VA Disability, HSA Contributions
- Over 60: Medicare Savings Program, Retirement Income, Widow Benefits, Tax Breaks
Have a Disability
Having a developmental disability is another way to get free money from the government without paying it back. Adults with special needs frequently receive Supplemental Security Income, a sure-fire qualifier for other federal benefits.
SSI recipients are automatically eligible for home improvement grants made possible through federal initiatives such as the Weatherization Assistance Program and Low-Income Heating Assistance Program.