Assistance Programs Guide Download

Updated on 03/21/2023

Grants Guide

Every year, thousands of individuals, businesses and groups all over the country apply for grants. Provided by the government and other organizations, grants have different purposes: they help low-income families pay for rent, food, health insurance, heating and cooling expenses, they provide financial assistance to students, veterans, seniors and small businesses, among others.

Application processes, requirements and deadlines depend on the type of grant you apply for and the organization in charge of distributing the subsidies. If you are interested in applying for a grant, access our Grant Guide below.

Federal Tax Returns Guide

Most individuals need to file your tax return with the IRS. Every year, between the months of January and April, the IRS receives tax returns from Americans all over the country. Filing can be done for free and you may even get help filing out the forms at no cost.

If your yearly income is less than a certain amount, you might be able to file your taxes online in the state and federal websites.

Tax returns can be hard to complete and a rather stressful task to undertake on your own. If you need help, our guide may help you navigate your taxes and tax forms.

Child Tax Credit Guide

As part of the COVID relief in the American Rescue Plan, Congress made changes to the Child Tax Credit for 2021. These changes included sending American families advance payments of the Child Tax Credit they would normally receive once after they file their taxes. This meant more money for more families.

However, these COVID-era changes to the Child Tax Credit have since expired. The amounts returned back to what they were pre-pandemic, leaving many families wondering if they still qualify or how much they can expect.

Whether you qualify for the Child Tax Credit depends on income, the ages of children, and residency…

Food Stamps Guide

The first – and most crucial – step in the SNAP application process is determining whether your household is actually eligible to receive government food stamp benefits.

Utilizing a pre-screening tool is the best way to determine whether or not you should proceed with your SNAP application.

In some states, applying for food stamps is looped in with additional government-benefit programs, so that all of your household data can be analyzed and assessed simultaneously.

However, state benefit programs are still handled as different entities, and your food stamps eligibility will remain separate from additional support benefits of which your household is eligible to collect.

Medicaid Guide

If you lost your job or your health coverage from your employer and cannot afford your medical expenses, consider applying for Medicaid. Funded by the government but individually regulated by each U.S. state, Medicaid provides partial-to-full coverage of both monthly health plan premiums and your medical costs.

The main requirements associated with Medicaid are being within the Federal Poverty Level limits as determined by the Modified Adjusted Gross Income system, and being a U.S. citizen or an immigrant with legal presence in the country.

There are certain patients who automatically qualify for Medicaid, including those who are considered “Mandatory Categorically Needy.” Those who are deemed “Medically Needy” can apply for…

Medicare Guide

As one of the biggest and most important health insurance programs in the country, Medicare is an essential part of America’s healthcare system. The program is run by the federal government and has four main parts (Medicare Parts A, B, C and D).

Medicare Part A provides coverage for inpatient hospital visits. It also helps pay for care at a skilled nursing facility and certain other places. This part of Medicare typically does not require a monthly premium. Medicare Part B, on the other hand, covers outpatient medical care, including preventive services and regular visits to the doctor. Together, Parts A and B are known as “Original Medicare.”

Also known as “Medicare Advantage Plans,” Part C is similar to Original Medicare, except that it is offered by private health insurance companies. Finally, Part D helps pay for prescription drugs and comes with plans that are…

Fannie Mae Guide

While Fannie Mae is not a primary lender, its mission is to provide liquidity, accessibility and stability by investing into the housing market. The program provides funds through the secondary mortgage market to approved lenders who in return provide mortgage loans to buyers.

In other words, Fannie Mae purchases and promises home loans created by firms for their unique buyers.

These mortgages are called conforming mortgages, meaning they meet underwriting requirements, have low interest rates and do not exceed the maximum loan limit set for that year.

If a lending company grants a homebuyer a mortgage of 100 thousand dollars, the lending company cannot lend any more money until the loan is replenished…

Section 8 Housing Guide

Once you have determined you are eligible to receive Section 8 aid, you can work with Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) in your neighborhood to seek out a suitable property lease.

Keep in mind that in some cases, depending on your neighborhood, you may be assisted immediately or there is a possibility that you will be placed on a waiting list.

After finding your new home, you are issued a voucher handled by your PHA, which will account for a certain percentage of your monthly home expenses.

The PHA will pay your landlord a subsidy on your behalf and you will be responsible for paying the difference in cost.

Unemployment Guide

The benefits you receive from unemployment insurance will depend on your earnings over the past year. In most states, you can collect unemployment benefits for a total of 26 weeks.

You may be eligible to apply for an extension of your UI benefits under some circumstances, including during times of high unemployment in a difficult economic climate.

Keep in mind that your UI benefits are subject to federal income taxation and must be reported when you file your taxes at the end of the fiscal year. When you enroll, you can elect to have your state withhold taxes from your unemployment checks.

VA Home Loans Guide

Like all Federal services, the VA home loan program is extensive. It has a broad category of applicant who could be eligible for loans and an even broader set of requirements for how to apply and how to use your loans.

If you are an active Armed Forces member, a veteran, a Reservist, Nation Guard member or surviving spouse, you may qualify for the benefits of the VA home loan program.

Part of what separates the VA loan program from other Federal services is that it offers loan recipients the choice to select their own private, local lender from any of the banks and mortgage companies participating in the VA program.

Tricare Guide

TRICARE insurance is sponsored by the United States Department of Defense and is available to all uniformed American military members, their families, National Guard or Reserve members, military retirees, Medal of Honor recipients, survivors and many former spouses.

Formerly referred to as the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Uniformed Services (CHAMPUS), TRICARE offers an open enrollment each calendar year wherein new Prime and Select plans can be purchased or updated by eligible sponsors while Retired Reserve, Reserve Select, Continued Health Care Benefit and Young Adult plans offer continuous enrollment availability all year long.

CHIP Guide

Eligibility for CHIP is based on factors such as household income and size, as well as the age of the child in need of benefits. Income limits are determined by each state, using the federal poverty level (FPL).

However, the federal government does not have a standard income limit for CHIP coverage, so these limits vary on a state basis.

However, the federal government incentivizes the states to increase coverage by agreeing to match funds up to a certain level.

Applicants can apply through their state provider or the Health Insurance Marketplace. Those who are approved receive an enrollment card to access their benefits.

SSI Guide

The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program is a welfare program that provides financial assistance to low income senior citizens and disabled adults and children who qualify. Despite their similar-sounding names, the SSI program is not directly related to Social Security retirement.

In fact, there are numerous differences between the two programs, including how the programs work, who is eligible for benefits, how benefit amounts are determined and how applications can be submitted.

However, an applicant could potentially be eligible for both SSI and Social Security if he or she met the requirements for both programs. SSI benefits, for example, are not determined by…

SSDI Guide

SSDI draws funds from the contributions made by all workers across the country in order to support those qualifying workers with disabilities. In order to qualify for SSDI, a worker must be so severely disabled as to no longer be able to work.

The definition of disability used by the SSA is very strict, much more so than that used by the Department of Veterans Affairs or other state-level organizations.

The potential for fraud is, therefore, reduced, and the SSA reviews cases very carefully to further limit those incidents. In addition to that strict definition of a qualifying disability, the SSA requires…

TANF Guide

In order to receive TANF benefits, there are certain standards you must meet, such as net income requirements. If your family has a greater income than the criteria your state has, then you are not able to receive cash assistance from the government.

Additionally, your child has to be a certain age in order for your family to receive cash assistance.

If he or she is older than what is required, then you are not eligible to receive benefits from the TANF program. Also, there are work requirements you must follow to continue to stay eligible.


One of the biggest mistakes that people make during the FSI ID process and while applying for FAFSA in general is failing to look back over their information before submitting it.

Missing or incomplete answers can cause the application to be sent back or denied due to not having enough information to process it.

Always check back over your answers for completeness. Once your application is sent in, you will receive an email with a secure code inside it. Complete the email verification process by entering the secure code into the relevant field. Once you have entered the code and verified your email address…

Student Debt Relief Guide

Millions of Americans have student loan debt, and many struggle to make their monthly payments. With the COVID-era pause on student loan repayments coming to an end, many are wondering how much they may owe, or whether they’ll still need to pay at all.

Student loans help many prospective college students pay for tuition and fees, housing, and other education-related expenses. Once a student leaves school, he or she must repay the loan plus any interest that has accrued.

There are a variety of debt relief and forgiveness options that may be available to those who qualify. The Biden Administration recently introduced the Federal Student Loan Forgiveness program, which has yet to get the approval from the Supreme Court. Regardless of the ruling, student loan repayments are set to resume in…

GI Bill Guide

The GI Bill is an important resource for military members to keep in mind during their service. With the help of this program, applicants can fund their educational goals after they are discharged. Eligibility and benefit amounts are determined by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

To qualify, applicants must complete a certain amount of service, receive an honorable discharge and fulfill several other qualifications.

In order to determine exact program requirements, applicants must pick a specific GI Bill option. Veteran education benefits are offered through multiple versions of the GI Bill, as well as other programs. The two most well-known options are…


The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) offers financial help to low-income families who struggle to make utility bill payments.

This is a federal program that goes by different names in each state and has variations in the services that it offers. Benefits sometimes differ based on climate, region, fuel and home type.

For example, Florida residents will require more cooling benefits while residents in Alaska will need heating.

Regardless of state or region, residents must apply for LIHEAP in their states. They can do this online, in person, by mail and sometimes by phone. Program eligibility is based primarily on…

WIC Guide

The WIC program was created with a specific goal in mind – to bolster the health of low-income women, infants and children.

Since the program was created in 1974, studies show that it has been made progress in its goal. Pregnant women enrolled in the program have longer pregnancies and are less likely to have premature births.

For infants, the WIC program reduced infant death rate among its participants and yielded higher birth weights.

For children, the WIC program shows reduced iron deficiency, healthier growth and improved school performance. As a supplemental nutrition program, WIC helps families by providing food benefits. These benefits may come…

FHA Loans Guide

Thousands of U.S. residents become homeowners with the help of an FHA loan. This type of mortgage is insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), and is provided by lenders throughout the country.

A home is one of the most expensive purchases a person will make in his or her lifetime. Most do not have the means of purchasing a home outright.

A mortgage makes it possible to finance the entire cost of a home through monthly installments.

In return for providing the necessary funds, FHA lenders charge interest, and require borrowers to pay mortgage insurance. Compared to conventional mortgages…

Rent to Own Guide

The idea of renting to own your own home is appealing for many reasons. It is an ideal option for low-in-come Americans or anyone who has poor credit or is working to build up a credit history.

These are some of the benefits of renting to own your home. Unlike renting, where you are paying to live in a home or apartment without any return on investment, renting to own a home allows you to reap the benefits someday.

Instead of writing a check to your landlord to never be seen again, you are actually making small monthly payments toward owning the home. This money can be put toward…

Social Security Retirement Benefits Guide

If you have earned income and paid Social Security taxes on that income in the U.S., you may qualify for Social Security retirement benefits. You must meet age and work requirements in order to qualify, but those who do receive about 40% of their pre-retirement income in the form of financial assistance from the Social Security Administration.

Social Security retirement benefit amounts are often based on the age of applicants when they retire and how much they earned while they were working. If you meet the criteria of the SSA, you can apply for the benefits you have earned in various ways, including online, by phone or in person at a local office.  

1040 Guide

Like most U.S. taxpayers, you may need to file an IRS 1040 to declare your income to the federal government or to qualify for tax credits. The IRS sets a minimum income amount and requires you to complete a 1040 form if your earnings are more than this amount. You may also need to file if you have had federal income tax withheld from your pay by your employer or if you made estimated tax payments as a self-employed individual.

Additionally, you may need to attach a 1040 Schedule 1 or another tax document if your financial situation requires it. The government created IRS Schedule 1 and other forms to simplify the 1040, but most taxpayers need them to either report additional income or lower their tax responsibility through qualified deductions.

W-2 Guide

You’ll likely receive a W-2 – Wage and Tax Statement if you are a standard employee. The employee W2 form is a record of the amount you earned from an employer and through tips or other compensation. 

Your IRS W2 also details how much you have paid in taxes through paycheck withholdings from your employer. The amount of money that your employer withholds depends on what you declare in your W-4 form, which you typically complete during your new-hire orientation. The easiest way for your employer to make a W2 statement is through the IRS’ online tools. Plus, a digital copy is often a faster and more secure delivery method.

W-9 Guide

Form W-9, Request for Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification, is a tax document that a payer or financial institution may have you complete so they can send you the corresponding tax documents to prepare your federal income tax return.

You may need to complete a W-9 if you are self-employed, earn or pay interest, have educational expenses, or contribute to your retirement accounts. A bank, client, or other entity can use the information you provide on the W-9 tax form to create the proper 1099 form for you. 

For instance, you may need to complete a W-9 if you have a home loan. Your lender may send you a 1098 Mortgage Interest Statement with the total amount of interest you paid, which you can use to potentially reduce your tax obligation.

1099 – MISC Guide

The 1099-MISC, Miscellaneous Income tax form details earnings from unconventional sources. However, the IRS recently changed the form, so you can no longer use it to report self-employment income. Instead, you may receive a 1099-NEC, Nonemployee Compensation if a client paid you as an independent contractor. 

The 1099-MISC still covers some forms of income, such as earnings from rental properties and medical or legal services. You may also get the tax form if you won money, received royalty payments, or earned certain types of proceeds. 

When it comes time to file your taxes, you’ll need to use any 1099 forms you may have received and the matching 1040 Schedule form. For instance, you would need to fill out and attach a Schedule E if Box 2 (royalties) is more than $10.

I-9 Guide

When an employer offers you a job, you will likely need to complete Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification. This tax form is a certification of your identity and authorization to work in the United States. 

It is your new employer’s responsibility to confirm you have the legal ability to earn an income. The federal government does not permit undocumented immigrants to work in the country without permission. Employers could face fines if they knowingly hire undocumented immigrants or delay the I-9 verification process. 

Similarly, you could face legal ramifications for falsifying information or documents. The I-9 process requires you to submit certain documents, like birth certificates and passports, to verify your information. While you can select which identification to furnish, your immigration status could influence which documents you need to show.

Unclaimed Assets

If you haven’t checked for unclaimed funds, you may be eligible for a financial windfall. From unclaimed pensions to wills to bond payments and tax refunds that couldn’t be delivered, there are lots of ways funds can get caught up. In many cases, children and grandchildren may be eligible to claim certain unclaimed funds and assets from state and federal governments.

As an example, if you paid a deposit on water services but then moved and failed to reclaim your deposit after ending your service, the deposit may have been sent to your local government. You can find such payments through your state’s database.

If you’ve moved between states, you can use a multistate database to look for unclaimed funds in both places. Additionally, if your legal name has changed, make sure you search for funds under all names you have ever legally used.

If you locate any unclaimed funds, you should research what the state procedures are for reclaiming them. The steps you need to take may differ depending on what kind of funds you locate and which state is holding the funds. In some cases, you can claim smaller amounts online, but must file by mail or in person to obtain larger sums of money.