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Grants vs. Scholarships: Everything You Need to Know
College is a new and exciting adventure for students to explore, but sometimes, finances can get in the way. Fortunately, there are plenty of financial aid options and resources available that can help you pursue your academic goals. Perhaps you are wondering what the differences are between grants vs. scholarships. Luckily, you can keep reading below to find out the ins and outs of grants and scholarships!
Financial aid options for college
Fortunately for college students and applicants, there are millions of dollars in funding that can ensure you get through school. However, some options have to be repaid while others do not. Financial aid options include:
Each option has their own pros and cons, but all of them can be put towards paying for your education. This guide will specifically focus on grants and scholarships, but be sure to research each alternative to make the best decision for your financial status.
A scholarship is…
Scholarships are financial aid that you can either apply for or automatically qualify for. These are funds that do not have to be paid back even if your academic situation changes. Oftentimes, schools that you apply to will offer scholarships that you are eligible for when they send your admission decision.
However, you can still apply for outside scholarships before and after you receive your financial aid letter. Our website even features a scholarship directory and scholarship search to help you find the best ones for you. Be sure to notify your school about any outside funding because it can change your financial aid offering.
Why should I apply for scholarships?
Scholarships are a good form of gift aid that make education affordable and attainable. They can range from covering the full cost of attendance to only covering a portion, but even then, multiple awards start to add up!
What types of scholarships can I win?
You can win athletic, merit, and academic scholarships, but you can also receive gift aid for niche skills or characteristics. For example, students of color and women can apply for scholarships specifically tailored for them. The same can apply for your favorite hobbies or your desired major. Your school district or local community may also have a variety of scholarships you can apply for, so check with your school counselor to get connected with these opportunities.
The possibilities are endless, and all it takes is some of your time to apply and hear back about your application status. Some winners may not be announced until a few months after you apply, but it varies depending on the scholarship.
Related: How to win local scholarships
A grant is…
Grants are funding that is completely dependent on your demonstrated financial need. As a result, it’s imperative that you fill out your FAFSA and/or CSS Profile as soon as possible in your application process.
One grant that you’ll often hear about during your undergraduate career is the Pell Grant. It’s a grant provided by the federal government, and it will be automatically offered if you’re eligible. Of course, you can still apply to other grants to see if you qualify even if you receive the Pell Grant.
It’s also important to note that there are some conditions that require grant money to be repaid. For instance, if you drop out of school in the middle of your semester or lighten your load from full-time to part-time student, you might be asked to repay those funds.
Why should I apply for a grant?
Grants are instrumental in helping families send their children to school, especially since the major factor is financial need. Applying is relatively straightforward once all your financial documents are completed, and they can be used in tangent with other aid you might have.
The application pool will be slightly different and possibly smaller than a traditional scholarship application, and you might be asked to write an essay before you can submit.
Can I use grants and scholarships at the same time?
Yes, any student can use multiple forms of financial aid at once. Oftentimes, students need a combination of grants and scholarships to cover part or all of their college expenses. However, the more outside funding you get might affect the amount of financial aid that your desired school provides, so do your homework and ask your college’s financial aid office if you have any questions.
You also have to consider that you’ll have to remain eligible for all the scholarships and grants you receive. Some of the requirements might overlap, but you’ll likely have to reapply or find new grants and scholarships each year.
Frequently asked questions about grants vs. scholarships
What is the difference between a grant and a scholarship?
Do I have to fill out FAFSA to get a grant or a scholarship?
What happens with leftover grant or scholarship money?