Guide to Winning Grants for College
Grants are one of the best ways that students pay for college
If you are like most students, you will not be able to pay for college without financial aid. The major types of financial aid that students will use to pay for college are scholarships, student loans, and grants.
As you are a savvy student who is using Scholarships360 we know that you don’t want to graduate with a ton of student loan debt. Certainly, small amounts of student loan debt can be fine, but you will want to focus your efforts on getting as much money in scholarships and grants as possible.
Grants are one of the most misunderstood types of financial aid as they oftentimes get lumped together with scholarships. However, they are a very different type of financial aid. Let’s talk about some of the differences between grants and scholarships.
Grants vs. Scholarships
Grants and scholarships are similar in that they do not need to be repaid and can be thought of as “free money.” However, there are some key differences when thinking about scholarship and grants for college:
- Primarily based on financial need
- Awarded by the federal government, state governments, colleges, and outsider organizations
- Awarded based on merit (ranging from academic achievement to talent in music, sports, or the arts).
- Some scholarships may also be awarded to students from particular backgrounds, locations, etc.
- Students can find a number of scholarships in our Scholarship Directory
Applying for Grants
The first step to applying for grants is completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA. The FAFSA will allow students to unlock a variety of financial aid options including college grants, federal grants, federal student loans, state financial aid, and even work-study.
The FAFSA will calculate the amount of money that your family can afford to pay for college,, which is also known as the Estimated Family Contribution or EFC. A lower EFC means that you will qualify for more financial aid, including grants.
Pell Grants are one of the most common types of federal grant that students may receive. Pell Grants aim to support low income students who have demonstrated financial need.
For the upcoming 2020-2021 academic year, the maximum Pell Grant award is $6,345. Note that the maximum Pell Grant award will range from year to year.
Applying for state grants
Your home state may also offer grants for college. The U.S. Department of Education has a handy tool to help you connect to your state’s department of education. This is a great first step for finding grant opportunities in your state.
What about private grants?
The line between scholarships and private grants is murky, so some private grants may be categorized as scholarships and the application process will be similar to that of scholarships.
You can expect to complete an application, essays, and sometimes provide academic information. Many of the private need-based grant applications may also ask for some sort of proof of demonstrated financial need.
Next steps for students
As a student looking for grants for college, the most important thing to do is apply for the FAFSA. This will help students unlock need-based grants and student loans from specific colleges, the federal government, and state governments.
Additionally, students should also look into specific grant opportunities through their state department of education, as well as private grants that are need-based scholarships.