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. I was call saying the government will give me 9200 dollars for not having a criminal record or bankruptcy in the last 15 months. Is this real?


  2. Grant assistance for house repair how do I go about looking in to that plz!!
    I need the help to repair my house …..


    1. Help! Our house is so old and needs plumbing and roofing and carpet cleaning services. I am a disabled VET with terminal cancer and my house is so old and needs to be repaired


    1. Hi Jack, please go to https://www.benefits.gov/ and complete the Benefits Finder tool to see if you are eligible for federal financial assistance. You should also check your local and state government websites to see if they have any other training programs available in your area.


  3. I want to get my Cdl s and get certified on operating cranes ! Will they help me with both of these ?


  4. I am a 71 year old women and i need to know can I get help with paying my home off quicker. I heard that there is a program that was started by the previous president


  5. I received a phone call from the United States Government Grant department. Saying I have been selected to receive $9,000 dollars in grant money that I don’t have to pay back. Just for paying my home taxes on time and it was given to me by the Health Human Services.


  6. Hi. I need financial help to set up a honey packing plant. Can you help me? Cordially yours haidar Thank you


  7. I’m on disability and take care of my sick mother 24/7. I have credit card debt and a suspended licence for fines. I don’t have a car. A Grant could get me out of debt pay off my fines so I wool be eligible to get license back and purchase a car.


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