Government grants and funding given to individual states is sometimes crucial for low-income and poor families to make ends meet when paying monthly utilities, rent and buying groceries. Eligibility requirements for government grants and funding typically center around the federal poverty guidelines; in 2009 a family of three was considered living in poverty if their yearly income totaled $18,310 or below. Individuals and families who need government aid usually need to begin the application process at a local county department of job and family services.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is the department that manages Section 8 housing, or the Housing Choice Voucher Program. Under this program, the government grants money to the public housing authority (PHA) in each state. Qualified applicants receive vouchers from the public housing authority to pay for a house or apartment that meets the PHA's standards. Individuals typically pay for a portion of the housing based on the individuals' income. In some cases the full cost of the rental is covered by Section 8 funds, but households can elect to rent a place that exceeds the maximum that the housing authority will cover; in this case the household pays the difference.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture administers the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which was formerly called the Food Stamps Program. This program administers grant money to state governments so that low-income families can qualify for assistance when buying groceries. This government assistance is distributed via debit cards which families can use at participating grocery stores. Households who need this type of aide typically need to submit an application and receive a face-to-face interview in many states. Income requirements limit eligibility for this government program; a family of four qualifies for SNAP assuming they have a gross monthly income of $2,389 or less, which is one hundred thirty percent of the poverty level.
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is a program run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that provides temporary assistance in the form of cash payments to needy families who are income-qualified. The grant funds are administered by the U.S. government so that each state can distribute money as needed for TANF programs and funding. Applicants and families who need this service can find out more information at their local county department of job and family services. Families who are given TANF assistance are usually given it on a time-limited basis, which means that they only can receive benefits for up to a specified period of time, usually two or three years.
Two education grants are administered by the U.S. Department of Education and are designed to enable low-income individuals access to quality education by providing tuition assistance. The U.S. Department of Education established both the Pell Grant and the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEPG). Eligibility is based on specific formulas determined by the Department of Education which take into consideration a person's EFC or estimated family contribution. An individual needs to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in order to qualify. These education grants are given directly to the school in which the individual is enrolled to decrease the cost of out-of-pocket expense for the student.
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