Grant vs. Scholarship—Learn the Key Differences and Similarities
When you start looking for ways to finance your education, you will come across both grants and scholarships, which are often used interchangeably. Both of them are types of financial aid that don’t need to be paid back, but what’s the difference?
To help you understand your financial aid options and make the best choice, we’ll help you get familiar with the grant vs. scholarship distinction. Find out how scholarships and grants differ and what they have in common in this simple but detailed guide.
You need to meet specific criteria to apply for either of the two aid options. The requirements depend on the type of grant or scholarship you are interested in.
You can receive a partial or full grant or scholarship. What this means is that some grants and scholarships cover a fraction of your education expenses, while others can pay off your tuition in full.
The main differences between grants and scholarships are:
- The basis for getting the aid
- Sources of funds
Grants are mostly need-based, while scholarships are often merit-based.
To be eligible for a grant, you have to demonstrate financial need. If you come from a low-income family, you have an opportunity to get this financial aid. This type of need is determined by the difference between the college’s cost of attendance (COA) and the expected family contribution (EFC). The lower the amount you get is, the higher your chances of getting a grant will be.
Scholarships are usually awarded to students with excellent academic, sport, or extracurricular achievements. Certain college scholarships are also given to students with a specific ethnic background, religion, interest, or similar.
Some of the reasons that make you eligible for a scholarship are:
- Showing satisfactory academic achievement in high school or college
- Being a high-contributing athlete
- Being a member of a community organization
- Obtaining a high score on the ACT or the SAT
- Being a member of an ethnic club or organization
- Being a member of certain clubs at school or the community
Grant money usually comes from federal or state governments. When you complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, these entities will get insight into your financial situation and match you with grants you are eligible for.
Scholarships come from more diversified sources. Besides governments and schools, individuals and private organizations also give out scholarships—including:
- For-profit organizations
- Non-profit organizations
The most common types of grants and scholarships are:
- Federal and state grants—such as:
- Federal Pell Grants
- Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG)
- Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grants
- Federal and state scholarships—such as:
- Agnes M. Lindsay Scholarship
- AlaskAdvantage Education Grant
- Boren Scholarships
- University- and college-specific scholarships—such as:
- Other scholarships
Since there are many scholarships related to students’ unique situations, use the table below to get a quick overview of different scholarship categories:
|Graduates||Women||High school seniors|
|International students||Veterans||Disabled students|
|Computer science major students||First-generation college students||Minorities|
|Moms||Muslim students||Volleyball players|
Where can you find the scholarships and grants you qualify for? The list of grants and scholarships is endless since many factors determine your eligibility.
The financial aid offices at schools of your choice can be a good starting point for the research. Explain your situation to the staff, and they will let you know what your options are.
You can also contact organizations or groups that collide with your interests or that you are a member of.
Do you wish there was a single source of information? Subscribe to DoNotPay, and our app will give you a tailored list of grants and scholarships in two minutes. You can forget about calling, emailing, and going through different websites as we will automate your research and application process.
For grants and the majority of scholarships, you usually need to complete the following:
- FAFSA form
- College Scholarship Service (CSS) Profile
- University or college-specific form
When you find all the grants and scholarships you want to apply for, look into their specific application requirements. Many scholarships also ask for the following:
- Scholarship essay
- Letter of recommendation
- Proof of your achievements or involvement in a specific organization
Finding grants and scholarships can be too much work. The good news is that DoNotPay can solve this issue in no time.
To get your personalized list of scholarships and grants, do this:
- Create a DoNotPay account and log in
- Choose the Apply for Scholarships tool
- Complete the questionnaire
That’s all the work you need to do when you use our nifty app. We can send applications for all no-essay scholarships in your stead!
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