Do grants really exist to pay off credit cards and debt? Many people may ask themselves this question after seeing TV commercials or other ads. Many companies are promoting deals or are promising new information about paying bills and your debts with government grants. No, these ads are not a scam.
While there are a number of financial assistance programs available to those that qualify, like many ads and things on TV it is perceived differently than it really is. After hearing an ad or viewing a commercial for such products many people think that they will get free grants and money to pay off the credit cards, help them pay all their bills or bad debt. Or they think they can quickly get cash to buy a car or pay for an education just by quickly filling out a few forms or making a few calls. This assumption is incorrect.
1) Understand the process. Before you begin your search for a grant, you need to understand that there is not a grant that is specifically created to solve all of a person’s financial trouble. It can be very difficult to get help to pay off credit cards, debts, everyday living expenses or bills. If you walked into a government office and asked for such a program, you will soon find yourself quickly out in the cold, if not laughed at.
The best way to find a grant is to explore local government resources, talk to non-profits or community action agencies, and ask for referrals. That is how many people find a grant that they may be qualified for. We have numerous resources and programs listed across this site.
2) Most grants are in fact government assistance programs. When someone is looking for some type of funding, most grant programs that may truly provide help are county and state run assistance programs. So this includes things like LIHEAP, child care subsidies or TANF cash assistance.
If you do decide to purchase a list of information on so called grant programs about your specific home area, state, or county, or your specific interest, you need to make sure to read the small print. Many of these could very well be scams, so tread cautiously. You will find lists of government grants that will cost anywhere from $5 to $80, but they are typically the same lists just being sold by different companies.
3) Hospital bills: The best place to look for a grant to help pay medical bills is at the hospital itself. Ask to talk to the patient advocate or billing department. Representatives at those locations can help you find any funds and grants that are available through the hospital. Also you need to be sure to check with Family Services to determine if your medical bill or debt can be paid with emergency Medicaid funds through county assistance.
Lower income individuals and families may be eligible for direct state assistance programs while others looking for help may qualify for care that is paid by a sliding fee scale. Sliding fees that you may need to pay are determined by how much a family income is, how much they can afford to pay for a service, and the fees are usually very small. To find out more about additional grants programs also be sure to contact your local health department. Current medical bills, and even some unpaid debt, may be eligible for reduction. Find additional ways to get help with medical bills.
4) Energy Bill - Emergency Crisis Grants: Many utility, gas, water, and energy providers have programs and grants that can help prevent a disconnection. The programs are targeted at the low income and struggling people. Call your utility company to learn more. The representatives can walk a customer through how the application process works for these government grants for utility costs. Or get a listing of energy company assistance programs.
5) Shopping: Regular expenditures: While you will not find assistance programs or free cash grants that will pay for a new fun wardrobe, or your daisy dukes shorts (unless it is a uniform requirement!), you may be eligible for grants to help pay for uniforms for work through the local career center. Another place for individuals to turn to for clothes for school includes a family services office.
A disabled person who is looking to find employment may also find free grant money to get a whole new wardrobe to change professions with assistance programs such as the Vocational Rehabilitation program. While some programs probably will not pay off an entire shopping bill, participating in aid programs like the Salvation Army will give you clothes and uniforms if you meet income guidelines. In many cases a voucher may be issued to the client. Find clothing closets.
6) Debt and grants due to education: While we think it is fairly well known that there are many government programs to help the poor and disadvantage pay for education expenses, most of these involve the student taking out a loan. However there are also numerous private assistance programs, scholarships and grants to help the country and economy find the next "leader and doctors" of tomorrow.
To find government grant programs, if you just go to your college financial adviser they may be the best source of information. This is how many students get help from the government, and that may be the best advice we can give. However, to find lucrative private grants and financial aid you may need to research through the internet or a local library. Or click here college scholarships.
7) Government grants for dependent expenses, including child care: While most families daycare expenses and annual bills are deducted from your income taxes paid every year, some low income families may be eligible for additional assistance. Most states offer vouchers or subsidies that can help pay for child care costs.
You need to look for additional information at your local social service office, Economic Development Center or family services for more information on grants or other funds that may help. They can provide information on subsidies for child care and other ways to get help with buying school supplies, adoption, or other necessities. Click here.
8) Grants to help pay debt due to daily living expenses: You usually see "Eight hundred dollars a month for the rest of your life to pay off any debts and bills" as a common line. If a government grant or assistance program states this, they are usually talking about a disability check or social security. This is a resource that was created to help families and people that are disabled and that not able to earn more than $800 a month. So these offers tend to be very questionable.
The best way to get information on disability or other benefits is to simply go to your local social security or human service office to ask about any government or public aid. The staff there can show residents of that region how to apply. More public aid.
9) Housing vouchers. Some people or companies refer to government run housing programs as grants. However they are in actuality vouchers that are issued by public housing authorities to help pay your rent. The government program, formally known as section 8, will tend a portion of the market rent for your home or apartment. Note that the client will still need to pay a fairly small portion of their income towards housing expenses.
So government housing programs such as section 8 can help a family pay their housing costs. However the individual will be provided a voucher as part of this and they are not issued a grant. The truth is that there is no such thing as free housing, other than maybe a short term shelter or transitional unit that a charity or non-profit may run. Read section 8 housing.
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