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I should not be providing this information, the government should. I believe the IRS should include a book like this to every American when they send you your tax forms. That way every American would know how to get their tax money back, because even though I call this "free money," it really isn't free. This is money that you gave to the government to pay your taxes and now you can get it back.
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You're probably not taking advantage of the benefits that are available to you. And why not? Because the government does not advertise. An even greater reason you may not actively seek this money is because a lot of us live with misinformation. Most Americans think that government money programs are for everyone else but them, for instance only the poor, minority or friends of the president. The facts show otherwise. I bet you did not know that:
The rich and famous, including Donald Trump, H. Ross Perot, Dick Cheney and George W. Bush, all made millions as private citizens with the help of government money programs.
It's understandable that most people don't know about all government money programs. I don't even know about every government money program available and I've been studying these programs for over 25 years. But what should surprise you, because it surprised the heck out of me, is that there are millions of Americans who are eligible to call the government today and get thousands of dollars from some of the government's basic programs. For example:
Most people know that grant money refers to money that the government gives out and you don't have to pay it back. And that's true. But what most people do not know is that most free money programs are not called "grants" by the government, they're called "direct payments". It is very easy for someone not to know all about government jargon. I've even seen government officials get thoroughly confused on this issue. Here's the data from Budget of United States Government 2005, Historical Tables, page 117 (2).
Direct Payments For Individuals $1,198,333Grants For Individuals $275,904 ___________
Total Free Money For Individuals $1,474,237
And this does not account for other free money programs the government has like the one they call "forgivable loans." This reminds me of when I used to ask my father to lend me $5.00. I usually never paid him back.
There are people who come up to me on the street and tell me they called the government about a program and the office said that they make too much money. Well, that may be true for that program. But the important thing to remember is that the government has thousands of programs covering all incomes and backgrounds. Just because you are not eligible for one program, does not mean that there aren't dozens more around the corner that may have your name on it. Remember what I said earlier: only 12% of government money goes to the poor and only 25% have an income requirement.
I make a good deal of money and I was able to get government money and other grants to pay for almost half of the costs of sending our two sons to college. I've seen housing programs at the local level where they consider families disadvantaged if their incomes are under $80,000. There are even government programs for women entrepreneurs where they consider you disadvantaged if you have $750,000 in the bank. Wow, that is almost a millionaire. Even the programs that give people the basic necessities of life have income requirements for a family of 4 at $38,000 a year.
Sure, there may be one in 100 of you reading this that will make a call to the government and get a check in the mail next Thursday that will solve your problems. But that is unlikely to happen to the other 99%. If you are one of those lucky one in a hundred, call me and I'll put you in my next infomercial. The people I put in my commercials are the people who say, "Hey, look. I made one phone call and got a check in the mail." The rest of us have to work at it.
Getting government money is like looking for a job. When you knock on one door and ask about a job, and they tell you that you are not qualified, you don't go home and wait for them to change their mind. No Way. You'd never find a job that way. If you really want a job, you go to the next company and ask about their qualifications, and then the next company, and then the next. This is the purpose of this book. It gives you not one, but a list of programs to keep contacting.
We constantly hear about government budget cuts and that makes people believe that government money is going away or will soon be gone. It's all lies in my mind. Look at the facts below. Every year for the past 30 years the amount of free government money given out to individuals keeps growing. It keeps increasing no matter if it's the republicans or the democrats who are in charge.
So don't believe the headlines about budget cuts. What really happens is that some programs will not grow as fast as in the past, but will still grow. Others will continue to grow as normal and very few if any, will actually decrease. The total amount of available money will continue to increase. These scare headlines actually create greater opportunities for you to get the money. Most people will believe the headlines, causing fewer people to apply for the funds that will actually be available.
So many people worry their heads off about what they are going to do when the get an application. They worry so much that they are buying professional grants writing services to the tune of hundreds or even thousands of dollars just so they don't have to worry when they get an application in hand. That's like buying a prom dress before you are invited to the prom.
Nine out of ten times you will not need help in filling out an application. Most free money programs to pay for your bills, education, health care, housing and even business require just a few pages of blanks to fill in. A major source for business money is only one page long to get $150,000. There are only 15 questions to answer to apply for a $4,000 grant to fix up your home. And artists can apply for grants by just filling in a form with 6 or 7 questions.
And if you decide you need help once you get an application you can get people to help you for free. Many offices offer this help at no charge. Also there are special government offices around the country that help business and entrepreneurs fill out forms. They are called Small Business Development Centers and are run by your state government. There are over 1,000 of these offices around the country. For a Center near you contact 1-800-8-ASK-SBA or http://www.sba.gov/sbdc/sbdcnear.html.
The only likely area where you might need professional help with an application is if you are a non-profit organizations. And if you are a non-profit or want to be a non-profit here are the 2 best places to get help. Don't hire anyone until you check out the services and help that they can offer you.
A. The Foundation Center of New York City maintains a database of all foundations that provide money to non-profit organizations or individuals. The information is available on the web at http://fdncenter.org or from their participating libraries by contacting 212-620-4230B. The Guidestar Company in Williamsburg, VA also maintains a database of foundations and they can be reached at 757-229-4631 or at www.guidestar.com. Much of their database is accessible for free on the web.
Each year over 30 million people in the United States receive grants from the government. You can be rich, poor or somewhere in between. Most of the money actually goes to middle class people. Remember most of this money is for people who cannot get money elsewhere. If you have a friendly banker or a rich uncle, other than your rich Uncle Sam, it may be easier for you to get money to do what you want. But if you are not already rich then the government is the place for you.And you don't even have to have good credit. One reason that your credit rating does not matter is because a lot of this money is grant money that you NEVER have to pay back. Banks worry about your credit rating because they want to get their money bank. If the bank was giving their money away and not expecting any of it back, they wouldn't worry about your credit rating either.Also, most of these programs are set up for people who cannot get money elsewhere. The government typically invests in programs that the private community is ignoring. That is why you will never see commercial operations giving out free money. They can't make money at it.Peter Jennings of ABC News ran a story showing how Mohamed Atta, the leader of the 911 terrorists saw a commercial for one of my books, bought my book and walked into a govenrmetn office in Florida to apply to a government program. He was asking for over $100,000 to help buy a plane that he said that he was going to use for passengers and crop dusting. HE WAS ELIGIBLE FOR THE MONEY. They did not give it to hime because they thought the idea was too strange. But here was a person that came over to this country plotting to kill thousands of U.S. citizens and he was eligible to get government money. If he was eligible, you should certainly be eligible too.
Most of it isn't but the real answer to this is the same answer to any good question, "It Depends". Some grants are taxable and some are not. If you get a grant to start a business, I would assume you would have to treat that as taxable income but you would probably not pay any taxes on it because you would use the money to buy business deductible items like computers, office space, advertising etc. Grants and scholarships in excess of tuition, fees, books, supplies, and equipment are considered taxable income. Grants given to veterans not taxable. A lot of grants given out to pay your energy bills or help pay your mortgage are not taxable. See IRS Publication 525 Taxable and Nontaxable Income available on the web at www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p525.pdf
You are not going to apply for a program and get a check for $100,000 by next Tuesday. This may actually happen to you, and if it does, call me and I'll put you in my next infomercial. But this is not likely to happen to you.There are programs set up to give out emergency money and their mission requires them to operate quickly. But in 15,000 programs this is very rare. A few weeks is actually fast for these programs. It may even take a few months. There are many people who say that a few months is a long time and they would rather not apply for the money. I say this is nonsense. If this is a long time for you then maybe you should not apply for the money. But I guarantee you that in the world of money a few months is no time at all to wait for someone who is going to give you $200,000 to buy a home. I'm bet you can't even remember what you did for the last few months.
Getting an application that is only one-page long is not unreasonable at all. Many of the government programs that give our grants really don't need a lot of financial information because unlike a bank they are not worried if you don't pay the money back. They don't want it back. It's free money. Sure some of the programs may require a 10 pay application if you are planning on building a village of town houses or buying a hotel. But the size of the application should never concern you. "Size does not matter." The important thing is getting the money. It should not matter even if the application is even 50 pages long. If someone is going to give you $500,000 for you to do what you want to do in life, it is stupid not to put in the time it takes to fill out the application. Even if it takes a week to fill out. Where else are you going to get $500,000 for a weeks work?
I was sitting in a Starbucks working the other day and a person who recognized me came up and said she was looking for a grant to start a business and asked if she should hire a grant writer to help her. My immediate reaction was NO...... I asked her why in the world was she thinking of hiring a grant writer when she doesn't even know yet where to go to get a grant or what the grant application looks like. It putting the cart before the horse and a waste of time. The reality is that you may or may not need a grant writer. So why waste time finding one if you may never need one? What you have to concentrate on is finding a place that may give you a grant. Once you find that you can worry about everything else.It's easy to get side tracked into spending time on things that seem relevant but aren't. And all this does is postpone the problem. And the problem is "Where Is The Money?" Don't you dare spend any time figuring out if you need more help once you find the money, or even how you may spend the money. All those questions are irrelevant is you can't find the money. Spend every ounce of your energy finding the place where you are going to apply for the money. The rest will fall into place.By the way. If you have trouble filling out an application for money, don't hire a consultant. Go to the office that is handing out the money. The are obligated to help you fill out your application. They are in the best position to know what should be on the application because they are the ones giving you the money.
Yes. Under the a law called The Freedom of Information Act, as a taxpayer, you have a right to see how the government is spending your money. This is your money they are handing out. Our democracy allows you to see applications from people who already received money under any program.The office handing out the money may not be completely cooperative in helping you get copies of successful applications. They may look at it as a paperwork burden and will try to discourage you. If this happens ask to speak to someone in their Freedom Of Information Act Office. Every government department and agency has such an office and they can tell you the procedures for requesting exactly what you need.This is like getting the test ahead of time. But it's legal.
Don't worry about how many programs you can apply for, If you see a program that you think might work for you, apply to it. If you apply to 50 programs and everyone gives you the money, that is a wonderful problem to have. Only worry about it after it happens. Not before. Sure there are some programs that give money for specific reasons and if you get accepted from 2 separate places you will have to refuse one of the offers. For example, you may apply to more than one program that offers grants for down payments or closing costs, or money to add a new addition to your home. If more than one give you the money, it will be a happy day in your life to have to turn one those agencies down. Don't worry about it. It's a nice problem to have. Worry more about where you are going to go to apply for the money.
This information is not intended to be a complete collection of free money programs. The rain forest could not handle it if that were true. This information is intended to give every American an understanding of the major programs available and a number of minor ones that we found to be the most interesting.
It's impossible for any one publication, database or anything else really, to be able to collect everything in the universe on a given subject. I know I'm biased, but I certainly believe that we are the best people in the world for collecting information on government money programs. I also know that we cannot possibly get every single program that is available. One problem is that programs come and go. Our world is changing every second. It is a big complex society we are living in, and people are making decisions throughout the day that make subtle or big changes which affect the contents of this book. Budgets keep changing. Priorities keep changing. People keep changing. Offices keep changing.
A bigger problem is that the world of free money is enormous. Preparing a book for a national audience makes us excellent at identifying national and state programs. But truthfully, it is sometimes beyond our capabilities to completely cover all local, county and nonprofit programs. First of all, if we did collect all of these programs in the country, you would not be able to pick up the book. There are thousands and thousands of local communities in the United States and each of them can have 5 to 50 programs. Fifty times 5,000 would be 250,000 programs. We would never finish researching.
Our goal is to arm you with knowledge. We want to show you the money, but you are going to have to do a little work yourself.
Sorry to disappoint you, but I have to warn you of the truth. In our modern society, it is virtually impossible to expect to include every program possible and have every item completely accurate. The problem is that the world is too big and it is always changing. Every day programs come and go. Every day people change their address, phone number and websites. It is just a fact that these things happen in our modern society.
But remember, if a listing in this book leads you to a non-working number or website, it does not necessarily mean that the program is gone. In all likelihood it is still there, but has changed since we completed our search. Here are some tricks you can try to locate the program:
You are going to find programs that excite you at first and then when you read further it may seem that you will not qualify. Or you will gather more information on a program in this book and you will run into some phrase, or sentence in the description that makes you feel you do not have a chance. You may encounter things like:
A. "all the money is given out by June 30th" and it is already September 1stB. "the money is only for people who live in the country" and you live in the cityC. "the money goes to non-profit organizations" and you are not oneD. "you have to come up with 20% of the money for the project" and you don't have any"E. "the money is only for people who live in Minnesota" and you live in New Jersey"F. "the money is for people making less than $60,000/yr" and you make $70,000"
Don't look at phrases like these as impassable boulders that stand in your way of getting the money you need. In reality, they can simply be small pebbles in the road that you may not even feel at all. If you don't follow up, you will never know.
Here's what I've seen happen in each of these situations:
1. "all the money is given out by June 30th": The end of the accounting year for most government agencies is September 30th, but the agency can start giving out more money beginning October 1, and you can be the first in line. I think you can wait another 30 days for your money.
2. "the money is for people who live in the country:" That may be so. But it will still pay to get the details of the program to see if there is something in the description that was not obvious to others. A young man in Boston was trying to get money from a program that gave money for teenage entrepreneurs that lived in the country. He lived in Boston. When he got the materials it said that it was for people in the country, but the description also said that it was for people who wanted to start lawn mowing businesses. That is what he wanted to do and he convinced the office that he was qualified. Government officials do not know everything. Get the facts and find out for yourself.
3. "the money is for non-profits": for about $100 in fees you can become a non-profit. Just call up the IRS and your state capital and ask for the office that registers non-profit organizations. Fill out the paperwork. Don't worry. You'll do it wrong. Send it in anyway. And they will send it back telling you how you messed up and then you will correct your mistakes. Another way to solve the problem is to find a local non-profit, like a community college, church, or community group. Tell them you would like to use their name to apply for a bunch of money and that you will give them 15% if you get the money. They have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
4. "you have to come up with 20% of the cost of the project": There is always more than one way to come up with the extra money than having the cash in your pocket. Some programs allow you to provide services or equipment that you already have as part of your 20%. You may be able to use your sweat as your contribution. The fact that you will work for free in helping to get the house built or the refurbishing done is worth something. You can call yourself a general contractor or just a handy man who pounds in the nails. Or you may need equipment, like the use of a car, to get the project done. This can be your car. The one that you already have and it can count as a percentage of the project.
5. "the money is only for people in Minnesota": Contact them anyway. It's likely that if this is a unique program then the program administrators will be aware of similar programs around the country that do the same thing. People doing similar work around the country have a tendency to organize and share information on how they are doing. We are one of the best organized countries in the world. If there are 10 people in the country doing the same thing they will start an association, a newsletter and have annual meetings.
6. "the money is for people making less than $60,000": We all know that rules are made to be broken and many bureaucrats who hand out money have the power and authority to break the rules. It is especially easier for them to bend a few rules if they like you or they like your project. Or they may be having trouble giving away all their money this year and you are one of the best ideas they have seen. Remember, bureaucrats are human too. They have feelings. Like all of us, unless they are having a bad day, their instinct is to help. Always give them a chance to see if they can help.
1) http://www.irs.gov/taxstats/article/0,,id=102886,00.html (the remainder of government spending comes from corporate, gift, employment, excise and estate taxes.2) http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/fy2005/pdf/hist.pdf (see page 117)3) Page 151 "Running On Empty", Peter G. Peterson, former Chairman of Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, 20044) Page 150 "Running On Empty", Peter G. Peterson, former Chairman of Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, 20045) Page 151 "Running On Empty", Peter G. Peterson, former Chairman of Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, 20046) U.S. Office Of Education, National Center For Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2003/2003060c7) http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d04363.pdf8) http://www.kff.org/medicaid/loader.cfm?url=/commonspot/security/getfile.cfm&PageID=283339) http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d04346.pdf10) http://www.acenet.edu/resources/HigherEdFacts/issue-briefs/2004FAFSA.pdf11) http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d04377.pdf12) http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d03958.pdf