What Is Federal Financial Assistance? [Updated]

This post was originally published on April 17, 2017 and updated on July 3, 2019.

Federal financial assistance is the transfer of anything of value, most often money, from a federal agency to a non-federal entity.

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In the most general sense, federal financial assistance is a tool the government uses to serve public purposes as defined by Congress.

Federal financial assistance is a very broad term, and it can take on a variety of more precise forms.

  • One of the most common forms is a grant, which we write about quite often on this blog.
  • Other examples of federal financial assistance include cooperative agreements, donations of property, direct appropriations, food commoditiesloans, interest subsidies, and insurance.
  • Each type of federal financial assistance serves different purposes and has different legal and regulatory frameworks that govern how that specific assistance can be used.

Where Does Federal Financial Assistance Come From?

Elected officials make laws that outline and define federal financial assistance programs. Then executive agencies implement these programs.

The judicial branch may also evaluate these laws to ensure the programs are consistent with the Constitution.  Click here to learn more about the branches of government on USA.gov.

Want more details about federal financial assistance? Consider consulting the following resources:

  • Grant Policies– What they are, how they are made, and those that pertain to grants
  • OMB Uniform Guidance for Grants– Thorough definitions and guidelines of federal financial assistance
  • USASpending.gov – Tracks federal spending to ensure taxpayers can see how their money is being used in communities across America
  • USA.gov– Learn about government programs that provide financial help for individuals and organizations
  • Benefits.gov Benefits Finder – Tool for citizens looking for information about federal benefits for individuals

Did you find this article helpful? Browse other topics in the What Is… Blog Series.

30 thoughts on “What Is Federal Financial Assistance? [Updated]

  1. Hi I am on disability and what I get a month doesn’t help pay all my bills. I’m about to lose my furniture cause I can’t pay the furniture bill nor help with providing for my 15th year old and buying things I need for the home or the personal things that we need. What type of grant is there that can help me with that ?


  2. yes hello I am in the same situation at Demetrius.. But I am needing a grant for school… my car broke down and thays my. onky way to amd from school where I live there is no public transportation at all and walking or riding a bike is put of the question due to how far OT is from the college… I just need grant from somewhere some how so that I may get my car going once that’s fixed my financial aid will Kik in but not till half way three the first month of school.. I wouldn’t normally just use that but I have to get myself to school that first half of the fist moth of school if not I might. lose my fasfa money.. oh also I am on socail security disability too.. Amd a. native American if that helps me get anymore help… Thank you have a great day


  3. I’m 62 My house is in need of repairs, including a new hoof. My ins co. is giving 6 mo to repair. I earn 36,000 a year but medical and cost of living cost make it impossible to save. is there any help ?


  4. I am a 51 year old woman. My significant other of 17 years passed in December of 2015 after a prolonged illness in which I took care of him. I was left homeless with only a cat and a few items. I proceeded to build myself back up but got injured on a temporary job. I than made the mistake of getting involved with an abusive man for the last 8 months. I am away now, again, still have the cat and now again lost everything. As I said, I am 51 years old, at this time because of my age, health, living situation, time I spent working as a caregiver/domestic not receiving a paycheck. I now need a break, so that I can get myself together and find a job, by the way still have the cat and she is my responsibility. I just want to know if there is somewhere I can go for the help I need to get on my feet.


  5. Hi I am a 49 yr old unemployed single mom of an 18 yr old special needs child. I am loosing my homeowners insurance in April due to no siding on house and no septic system.
    Is there any kind of grant that can help me
    With these issues


    1. Hi Terrie, please go to Benefits.gov and complete the Benefits Finder tool to see if you are eligible for personal federal financial assistance.


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