Grants and scholarships are the most desirable types of funding you can receive to pay for your college education, since they don't need to be repaid. While any amount of free money will be competitive, especially in a tough economic climate, the sooner and more often you apply the more luck you'll have.
The most popular grants are broken down by the federal, state and college level. These will usually be more generous, but many other sources of free funding exist outside those three main categories. Students with particular characteristics or talents may also find they're eligible for at least a handful of grant opportunities, so do your research. Student loans should always be kept at a minimum when you're financing your education, and many grant opportunities will allow you to do just that.
Visit http://www.scholarships.com/financial-aid/grants/ for a great list of grants, scholarships and more.