If you are financially struggling, you may be wondering whether there is help. The good news is that there are hardship grants to provide you with fast cash when you need it most. Below are some places to start when looking for emergency hardship financial aid to make ends meet.
Federal Hardship Grants Provide You Fast Cash
The federal government provides all kinds of assistance that can bridge the gap in your finances. Only a few specific institutions will qualify for actual “grants” (where a large amount of free money is available for any expenses). Institutions like universities, non-profit organizations, research labs, and state and local governments. In contrast, personal grants are essentially assistance programs that help individuals and families lower their everyday costs and get back on their feet. And so, although technically not grants, you can use these programs as financial assistance.
Below are a few federal assistance programs for low-income families and individuals that can help you lower your monthly expenses (without having to repay the funds):
Federal Government Programs That Help With Bills and Everyday Essentials for Low-income Families and Individuals
The following programs are available for a wide variety of people facing financial hardship:
1) Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
LIHEAP, a federal government-funded program, provides help with utility bills. They help with things like heat and cooling or help after a utility shut off. They also offer low-cost home improvements to increase efficiency and lower overall utility bills each month. The Department of Housing and Development (HUD) developed LIHEAP. And they can also help in some cases with a rent or mortgage payment.
2) Subsidized Housing
Also provided by HUD, this program provides resources to find affordable housing.
3) Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
TANF is one of the most widely used federal government grants. It can provide low-income families with cash assistance, food assistance programs (SNAP and WIC), utility coverage, transportation expenses subsidy, medical bills, and other everyday expenses.
4) Unemployment Assistance from State and Federal Government
If you lose a job due to no fault of your own, you may be eligible for unemployment assistance. Once approved, a portion of your previous income (based on various factors) is sent straight to a bank account. From here, you can use it as cash or credit, just like your paycheck. Each state has its website for benefits outlining terms and conditions. Keep in mind that unemployment is a temporary cash assistance program, and you must be actively searching for work while you receive benefits.
5) Human/Social Service Agencies
Every state has social service agencies to help you connect with state-funded assistance programs, non-profits, and government grants.
6) Medicaid and Chip
Medicaid is federally funded healthcare for low-income families and individuals. CHIP is the same thing, just for those under 18. With these programs, you may be able to avoid financial hardship due to a medical emergency in the first place. Medicaid and CHIP can also help with prescription costs.
7) Workforce Investment Act
A program created from government funds through the United States Department of Labor, helps people from all walks of life get access to job training and learning.
8) Making the Most Out of Tax Benefits
Another way to get the most out of your income is to make sure that you apply all the tax credits that you need. The Child Tax Credit, American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC), The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), Armed Forces Tax Benefits are a few examples.
9) The Small Business Association (SBA)
The SBA provides various business grants that aren’t always financial hardship grants. Grant funds can be for multiple demographics and situations.
Financial Hardship Grants for Military Members and Their Families
These programs are set up for military veterans and their families:
10) Military Benefits
If you or a family member are veterans, many federal government grants can help with various expenses. Many of these grants come from the federal program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Expenses like healthcare, housing costs, education, life insurance, retirement, job training, caregiver support, military child assistance, legal and financial support for veterans and their families are all available through various federal programs. For more information or to apply for any of these benefits, contact the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Personal Hardship Grants for Senior Citizens and The Disabled
The following are programs for senior citizens, disabled individuals, and their caretakers:
11) Social Security Benefits
Funded by taxes and allocated into a trust fund, Social Security provides benefits for eligible people. Each year that you work, you earn credits which you can use once you are at the age of retirement. Social security benefits are available to retirees, those who have disabilities, and to surviving dependents of deceased workers.
Supplemental security income (SSI) falls under these social benefits, which focuses on additional support for those in specific circumstances.
Medicare provides federally funded low-cost health insurance for senior citizens 65 and older. Medicare can help you get medical treatment, pay for prescriptions (Medicaid D) or take care of medical bills.
Student Hardship Financial Grants
If you are a full-time or part-time college student, the U.S Department of Education provides hardship grants for students. These government hardship grants offer funds for tuition, books, dorm costs, and more. Grants are different from student loans/financial aid from the gov., which you must pay back. Here are the major types of student grants provided by the U.S Department of Education:
13) Federal Pell Grants
These grants help students that have not completed any college education and are in exceptional financial need.
14) Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG)
This grant can make anywhere between $100-$4000 a year. The U.S Department of Education Provides these funds to various schools, and funding becomes a first-come first-serve process. Your financial aid office at your college or university will let you know whether your school participates, and about any funds left for aid.
15) Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (Teach) Grants
Eligibility criteria for this grant requires meeting specific service requirements, including pursuing a career in teaching. If you don’t meet any of these obligations, you will have to repay this grant.
16) Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants
You will be eligible for this grant if your parent or guardian was a member of the armed forces and died in Iraq or Afghanistan, after 911. There are a few other basic requirements to meet, such as your age during your parent/guardians’ death and time of enrollment into college.
COVID-19 Impacted Grants From the Federal Government
The pandemic continues to be a medical and financial crisis across the United States and the world. On top of the past stimulus checks, the federal government continues to provide grants and resources for those who qualify.
17) COVID Hardship Grants
These are available for all kinds of expenses and needs. You can apply for personal grants, business grants, and non-profit grants through the coronavirus aid grants website.
Where Can I Search for Federal Grants for Emergency Financial Assistance?
If none of the programs above fit your specific situation, or you want to find other federal free hardship grants, head to Grants.gov. You can add filters for categories, eligibility, and agencies to make the search easier.
The idea of “free money from the government” or “free money from a grant” can be enticing, especially for those facing financial need. Unfortunately, scammers take advantage of this by setting up grant scams. To keep yourself protected, know that the United States government will never reach out to you to provide funds directly. The safest option when searching for federal emergency grants online is through Grants.gov.
Non-profit Organizations and Hardship Grants To Provide You With Emergency Financial Assistance
Government financial hardship grants and assistance programs may not be available for everyone. Some people may not qualify for government financial assistance due to their income, age, or other demographics.
The good news is there is help beyond a government grant that is available. Several non-profit organizations (private foundations and public ones) can provide financial support and grant money for those facing financial difficulties and need money now. Local places of worship, local charities, and local community organizations can all help with cash assistance.
Below you will find organizations that focus on particular forms of economic hardship for low-income families and individuals:
- Medical Bills for You, a Loved One, or a Pet —American Veterans Relief Foundation, CaringBridge, Children’s Healthcare Fun (CHF), Life Beyond Cancer, The Humane Society, The ASPCA
- Everyday Expenses (food, utility bills, transportation, clothing) —The United Way, Net Wish, National Assistance League, Feeding America, The Red Cross, 1-800-Charity Cars, Catholic Charities, Jewish Federation of North America
- Housing (mortgage payment/rent, utilities, moving costs) —Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity, Operation Homefront, Home sharing, Mercy Housing.
- Job Programs —Urban League, The YMCA, Dress for Success.
These are just a few examples of some of the more popularly known charitable organizations out there. A google search or a call to your local social services agency can help you dive deeper into personal grants, local charities, and other private assistance programs.
Consider Privately Funded and Government Loans To Provide You Fast Cash
Suppose you do not have time to apply for grants or meet the eligibility criteria for government money. In that case, you may consider an emergency hardship loan. Unlike grants, you will have to pay back loans with interest. However, for many people having the financial help they need is worth it. And if handled correctly, a loan could be an excellent option to provide you with fast cash during a financial crisis.
There are government-funded loans you can look into or loans with private companies. Your credit score and your income will largely determine the kind of loan you can get. Bad credit score loans and no credit check loans are also available. Although a loan may not be the kind of relief you’d want first, it could be the only viable option for financial help.