To receive a government grant, you must apply as an individual or organization with the intent of improving government services for the public. Federal grants are not personal loans, nor financial assistance to individuals. There are many organizations that are eligible to apply for government grants, such as small businesses and educational organizations, and if you are considering applying, here is a guide to understanding the process.

Understanding grants
If you are seeking financial assistance for yourself, first look at government benefits, student loans or business loans. To determine your eligibility for grant opportunities, visit grants.gov. Grant recipients range from government organizations—such as local and state governments—to school districts and non-profit organizations. A few government grants are also open to individuals.

Find a grant
Grants.gov lists grant opportunities in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Through this partnership, Grants.gov provides access to grants from many endowments, foundations and departments of the government, such as international development, agriculture and commerce. You can search for grants by keyword, category or agency.

Meet the criteria
Your project needs to adhere to the grant’s specific requirements. Eligibility will differ based on the type of grant you pursue. Read the specific requirements insisted on by the grant provider, who needs to know that you can deliver on your commitment as the grant’s recipient.

Register
You can browse for grants at your own leisure and then register when you apply. The process can range from three business days to four weeks, so it is best to begin as soon as possible.

According to Grants.gov, if you are registering on behalf of an organization, you need to obtain a DUNS number, which is a unique, nine digit identification number for the physical location of a business. You may create one here: D&B Government Customer Response Center Webform.

Additionally, you must register with the Central Contractor Registration (CCR), so that your information may be easily disseminated for grant consideration and validation. With your DUNS number, create an Authorized Organization Representative username and password with Grants.gov. Then, your organization’s E-Business Point of Contact must log in to Grants.gov to confirm your status as an authorized organization representative.

You can track your application status easily. For individual applications, the DUNS number and registration with CCR are not necessary. If you register as an individual, you will only have access to grants specified for individuals, which are far less common.

Those interested specifically in research grants should visit Research.gov, which provides information about federal research spending.