Finding Grants to Buy a Car

by Mary Jane Freeman

Introduction

Buying a car can be a challenge, especially if you lack the financial resources. Car grants exist, but can be a challenge to find. You can start your search by visiting various state and nonprofit databases.

Federal Grants

The federal government awards a wide variety of transportation grants each year. Available funds are used for a variety of purposes, including the purchase of vehicles and repairs to existing vehicles. The catch is that these funds are typically allocated to state and local government agencies, such as public transit systems, and nonprofit organizations that provide transportation services to the public or certain populations like veterans or the elderly. Despite it being a long shot, it still makes sense to periodically check the federal grant database. Occasionally, grants are posted that are open to both individuals and organizations. First, click on the Search Grants link at top of page to go to the online database. On left-hand side of next page, there are various filter tools. Check "Individual" box in Eligibility section, then "Transportation" box in Category section. Click "Search." The results will list all transportation grants you can apply for as an individual.

State Grants

Another way to track down car grants is to contact your local human services agency. The American Public Human Services Association provides a list of all state agencies on its website. Ask your state agency about available car grants, eligibility requirements, application procedure and deadlines. It may also have information on car grants available from nonprofits and local governments in your state. The Grantsmanship Center is another helpful resource for locating potential car grants in your state. It provides a state-by-state listing of top grant-making foundations, community foundations and corporate giving programs on its website. Click on your state to begin search.

Charities

Charities also offer car-buying assistance. Depending on the program, this may be in the form of a loan, grant or car donation. Since you are looking for free money, focus on those that offer grants or donated vehicles. Although eligibility requirements may vary, a common requirement for assistance is financial need. The Community Transportation Association is a helpful resource, providing a state-by-state list of car ownership programs on its website. You can also search for car charities on the Internet.

Scams

Avoid becoming the victim of a scam by doing your homework. Apply for grants offered by the government or referred by a government agency. Before applying for grants or financial assistance from a nonprofit or charity, check its reputation by visiting sites like GuideStar, Charity Watch and Charity Navigator.

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About the Author

Based on the West Coast, Mary Jane Freeman has been writing professionally since 1994, specializing in the topics of business and law. Freeman's work has appeared in a variety of publications, including LegalZoom, Essence, Reuters and Chicago Sun-Times. Freeman holds a Master of Science in public policy and management and Juris Doctor. Freeman is self-employed and works as a policy analyst and legal consultant.