This isn’t so much free money as it is money owed to you. It could be a long-forgotten deposit paid to a utility company, a lost savings bond, unclaimed life insurance benefits or an uncashed paycheck.
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Get Free Money From the Government
These unclaimed funds are turned over to the state when the owner can’t be located, often due to a clerical error or companies having an old address on file. Visit unclaimed.org, a site affiliated with the National Association of State Treasurers, to find out if you have money waiting to be claimed.
The cost of higher education continues to rise; Pell Grants can help. Students who are eligible could get up to $5,920 in Pell Grants for the 2017-18 award year, which ends June 30, 2018. The exact amount awarded is based on factors that include financial need, the cost of attendance and whether you’re enrolled as a full-time or part-time student. Students can apply for the grant by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
During the 2017 fiscal year, West Virginia doled out more than $12 million in unclaimed funds. Maine returned more than $18 million and Florida returned more than $313 million — a record for both states.
Get down payment assistance
You want to buy a home but can’t afford a down payment. Enter state-based down payment assistance. These grants and loans help you cover the upfront costs of purchasing a home.
In Nevada, for example, prospective homeowners can qualify for a grant of up to 5% of their mortgage to put toward a down payment and closing costs. District of Columbia residents can qualify for a down payment assistance loan of up to 3.5% of their mortgage. The loan needs to be repaid only if you sell, refinance or vacate the property within the first five years.
Help isn’t reserved for low-income borrowers. Nevada’s grant program is available to those with an annual income below $98,500. The D.C. program caps income eligibility at just over $132,000.
Visit FHA.com to find down payment assistance programs in your state.
Find help with child care
Day care is a major expense for many families. Annual costs for infant care range from just shy of $5,000 in Mississippi to more than $22,600 in Washington, D.C., according to the Economic Policy Institute, a nonprofit organization focused on low- and middle-income workers.
The Child Care and Development Fund can help ease the burden for low-income families. Administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the fund gives states, territories and tribes money to distribute to families to help pay for child care. Grants are income-based and typically cover care for children under 13. (Find the Child Care and Development Fund contact for your state.)
Apply for college grants
Other federal grants for college include the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant and the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant.
State grants and scholarships also are available.
Get tax credits for health insurance
The future of the Affordable Care Act is murky at best. But for now, the premium tax credits issued via the program are alive and well. Here’s how they work:
Individuals and families who buy coverage through the government’s health insurance marketplace (Healthcare.gov) can qualify for a credit toward their insurance premiums. The credit can be paid directly to your insurance provider, lowering your monthly payments, or paid out as a tax credit when you file your return.
Seek help with utility bills
Need help paying your heating bill? The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program may be able to help.
As the name indicates, the program helps low-income households cover heating and cooling costs. Grants are issued via states, which receive funding from the Department of Health and Human Services. Each state sets its own eligibility requirements, including income levels.
You can also get help with your phone bill via the Lifeline program, which offers discounted landline or cellphone service. Lifeline is an income-based program, so you must meet certain eligibility requirements.