The federal government does not offer grants or “free money” to individuals to start a business or cover personal expenses, contrary to what you might see online or in the media. Websites or other publications claiming to offer “free money from the government” are often scams. Report them to the Federal Trade Commission.
The government does offer federal benefit programs designed to help individuals and families in need become self-sufficient or lower their expenses.
What is a grant from the government?
A grant is one of the ways the government funds ideas and projects to provide public services and stimulate the economy. Grants support critical recovery initiatives, innovative research, and many other programs listed in the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA). Learn more about grants and types of grants.
Who can get a grant?
The federal government typically awards grants to state and local governments, universities, researchers, law enforcement, organizations, and institutions planning major projects that will benefit specific parts of the population or the community as a whole.
Contrary to what you might see online or in the media, the federal government does not offer grants or “free money” to individuals to start a business, or cover personal expenses. However, the government offers federal benefit programs designed to help individuals and families in need become self-sufficient or lower their expenses.
Search and Apply for Government Grants
Use the federal government’s free, official website, Grants.gov rather than commercial sites that may charge a fee for grant information or application forms. Grants.gov centralizes information from more than 1,000 government grant programs to help states and organizations find and apply for grants.
“Free” Grants and Grant Scams
If you received information stating you qualify for a “free grant,” it is probably a scam. Get information from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to help you learn to recognize and avoid grant scams. If you have been a victim of a grant scam, you can file a complaint with the FTC.
Contact your state consumer protection office if you have purchased a book or paid a fee to get grant information and are not satisfied.
What is a loan from the government?
Government loans serve a specific purpose such as paying for education, helping with housing or business needs, or responding to an emergency or crisis.
Loans are different than grants because recipients are required to repay loans, often with interest.
Examples of Government Loans
The federal government offers several types of loans, including:
Search for Government Loans
Use the federal government’s free, official website, GovLoans.gov, rather than commercial sites that may charge a fee for information or application forms.
GovLoans.gov directs you to information on loans for agriculture, business, disaster relief, education, housing, and for veterans.
Do you have a question?
Ask a real person any government-related question for free. They’ll get you the answer or let you know where to find it.
Last Updated: March 25, 2019