What's the difference between a scholarship and a grant?

Sara LindbergSara Lindberg
Freelance Writer
Former High School Counselor 
How often do you think about paying for college? If you’re like most high school seniors (and parents), the answer is likely “all the time.” That’s why learning about the different ways to fund your education is so important. 

Two methods of aid that need to be on the top of your list include scholarships and grants. While both are considered “gift aid” (money you don’t have to pay back), they differ in how you apply and how you receive the funds. If you have demonstrated financial need, you may be eligible for one of the grants awarded by the federal government, such as the Federal Pell Grant. This form of aid is called “need based,” since the money is awarded to students with the greatest financial need. In order to qualify for a federal grant, you must file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) on or after October 1. Your state government or college you plan to attend may also have grants available based on need or merit.

Scholarships, on the other hand, are typically merit based or affiliated with an organization or private donor. Students are eligible for scholarships based on a variety of qualifications such as academic achievement, athletics, or extracurricular activities. You can also qualify for scholarships based on your affiliation with religious or community organizations, businesses, and alumni associations. You can find scholarship opportunities and applications at the colleges you’re applying to, online at scholarship search sites, with private organizations, and in your local community.

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