When you are looking for a grant you are in a race and that is because, obviously, the number of students who want and need grants is much larger than the number of grants that are available out there. So in order to get an advantage you need to develop a few skills and use some tricks.
One good trick is to go outside your University of choice. Use some research skills to dig for grants in bookstores and school counseling offices. Use smart Internet search to identify grants in your area and to get all the application data which you must study carefully in order to get all the details. Go to state and regional government educational offices and ask them if they know about any type of grants.
Consider multiple fields of study. Grants are usually offered for specific fields of study and some of them may not be your first choice, but consider getting free education as opposed to finishing college and being in great debt. Not having debt when you finish education can be a great push forward.
Make a good list of the grants you found and create a calendar of the submission dates of each and every one of them. Start collecting application data for the ones your need to apply sooner and prepare the documents. A calendar will help you not to miss the application data for the grants that you are interested in. Submitting you application early on in the process can also increase your chances of getting that grant. Foundations and universities start to process the applications early on and if yours hits the spot you might be already be marked as a good candidate. Preparation pays off in these cases.
Prepare the support documentation. You will need letters of recommendation, transcripts and financial data. Don`t underestimate the time you need to prepare these documents. Getting recommended can take weeks and getting the right legal financial documentation can be a hefty process and you might need a few weeks for that too. Ask for letter of recommendation from skilled professionals who might offer an opinion that matters and ask friends and family to review your application documents for errors.
When you are searching for a business grant you have more than one option. If you only go to grants.gov you will see you have plenty of options and there are also the local foundations and even angel investors who will be willing to help. But for all these grants you will need to submit an application. To make things easier and be able to apply for several grants you need to prepare excellent documentation and especially the one that is going to overlap.
First of all you have the application form. They will all ask for basically the same type of info so just study two or three and gather the information you need in a document to help you file applications more rapidly.
Secondly you have the business plan. This will be required at every application as the foundations will like to understand what you will be developing and how you will sell it. Create an excellent business plan and have it proofread and ask a friend to look over it and identify the weak points.
The letters of recommendation can be reused. Try to get up to five good letter of recommendation. Make sure that they are from important people in the community. Choose successful businessman or community members and just go and ask for a recommendation telling them what it is for. Read the requirements of each grant and see if there are any special issues regarding how the letters should be written.
Create a business proposal that you can personalize. For each grant you will need to submit a business proposal and you will need to personalize it, but you can start from a template that underlines why your business is the best choice for the grant.
Create good financial documents. You will need to show you estimated budgets and financial statements and you will need to prove that you will be able to handle the money in a smart way. Build a strong budget and argument every point you make. Have this documentation ready for each of the applications.
Once you`ve created all the materials make sure you proofread them and check the facts. If you get all this info down correctly in the first application you will be able to use it again with small changes in the next one making you task much easier.